Monday, February 8, 2010

New Rochelle Comes Roaring Back, Defeats Mount Vernon Again

Antoine Mason infected the nooks and crannies of Mount Vernon's offense, stalling their chemistry while helping instigate a tide of untimely turnovers.

New Rochelle found themselves in a familiar situation. They came roaring back from a 13-point deficit, reeling off an eye-popping 32-9 power surge in the game's final eight minutes, en route to a 77-67 victory over blood-rival Mount Vernon Monday night.

For the Knights, it was like deja vu all over again. Mount Vernon frittered away an identical 13-point lead during their 62-58 loss at New Rochelle last weekend.

“We didn’t handle their pressure,” Knights coach Bob Cimmino told The Journal News.

"They took it to us and we didn’t make plays. It was almost the exact same game.”

The Knights crumbled in the fourth quarter, when Mason scored 10 of his 19 points.

The Huguenots negated the Knights, executing the clamps-on operation while preventing them from pumping the rock into the hands of high-scoring guard Jabarie Hinds.

With Louisville coach Rick Pitino, one of several Big East coaches in consistent pursuit of the lefty guard, sitting a few rows behind the Mount Vernon bench, Hinds scored a meager 13 points.

Hinds made some jaw-dropping plays proving he was on a higher stratosphere than the other nine guys on the court, but he seemed frustrated at his teammates (particularly when they didn't swing the ball to him) and struggled mightily with his shooting.

He also missed 3-of-4 at the charity stripe. Perhaps 'Bari suffered a slight case of Pitino-itis, though he was out of his groove and certainly taken out of his comfort zone by New Ro's harassing defense/press.

Mount Vernon had trouble handling a deep, physical New Rochelle team which boasts a pick-your-poison style of offense.

A.J. Burton dropped a game-high 20 points, including a three-pointer from the parking lot with the shot clock winding down.

That trey put the finishing touches on Mount Vernon, giving New Rochelle an insurmountable lead with 1:10 remaining.

It was the first home loss for the Knights since the mid-90s and the first time the Huguenots have won at Money Earnin' Mount Vernon in 21 years, according to The Journal News' Varsity Insider.

Hinds' gifts were most notable during a late spurt in the third quarter. He threaded through the defense, soaring to the cup for easy layins. He pushed the ball down the floor, unleashing a quick pullup jay that splashed through the nylon, providing the Knights with a 51-41 edge.

During the Knights' mammoth fourth quarter meltdown, however, he was virtually non-existent. Hinds' teammates were locked up in straightjackets and couldn't push the ball to their standout 5-foot-10 junior guard.

When New Rochelle needed a bucket, Steve Whittingham was there to provide it. Whittingham, a transfer via St. Raymond's in the Bronx (where there's been a mass exodus of talent, with multiple highly-regarded recruits bolting for prep schools), turned in his best performance of the season.

Whittingham dropped a season-best 15 points and his timely scoring spree took off in the third quarter, when he scored eight consecutive points to pump back life into the Huguenots.

New Rochelle's PJ Torres, a forward who permeated the teeth of the defense and pulled off some wild shots, added 15 points.

Mason, who drilled a three to kick-start a ferocious 11-0 fourth quarter spurt capped off by his two-handed fast break flush (plus the foul for a 3-point play), is receiving plenty of Division-I interest.

St. John's, Binghamton, Long Island, Quinnipiac, Manhattan, Fordham, and a slew of others are in active pursuit of Mason, the son of the former New York Knicks bruising forward Anthony Mason.

A coach from LIU was in attendance Monday night.

Mason's half-brother, Anthony Mason Jr., is a fifth-year senior on St. John's, a once-prosperous program that's been freefalling in the Big East.

The 6-foot-2 guard/forward, he of the springy hops, may have upped his stock following a performance of this caliber, in a game of this magnitude.