Thursday, March 4, 2010

Notes From The Barn That Ben Built

Jabarie Hinds has been the centerpiece of this year's Mount Vernon squad, one which underwent oft-noticed "growing pains" and "setbacks." The 914-area's rich basketball real estate, Mount Vernon is where excellence is expected and hanging a banner in the gym is annual tradition.

There were no setbacks last night. No growing pains and no learning experiences for this callow Mount Vernon team, one which graduated four starters last spring. None.

Just a dominant performance that overwhelmed a high-octane Poughkeepsie team, outdueling them in every considerable facet of the game.

Last night, at a jam-packed County Center, Hinds turned in a squad-slaying 26-point performance--highlighted by a personal 7-0 run in the third quarter--to help guide the Knights to a 69-57 victory over Poughkeepsie in the Section I/Class AA championship. The win establishes Mount Vernon's record-tying fifth straight Section I crown.

Mount Vernon, a storied program which has churned out plenty of Big East talent(see Gordon, Ben, Jones, Kevin or Mitchell, Jon) has now won nine section I championships in 10 years.

Poughkeepsie's operation to put the clamps on Hinds worked to their advantage in the first quarter, when the carved 5-foot-11 off guard was held scoreless and Poughkeepsie led, 17-15.

In the second and third quarters, howevever, Hinds morphed into a pretty accurate depiction of hell-on-wheels. Executing Mount Vernon's patented running game helped, as Hinds jumped so high he patted the brush on Marvin The Martian's head before coming down to planet earth and delivering a one-handed sledgehammer in the second quarter.

That couldn't have been more evident when the oil-smooth southpaw made a wrongfooted defender slip before stepping back unguarded and draining a three.

Then, Hinds got free in transition and went to his right hand for an uncontested lay-in. On the ensuing possession, Hinds misfired on a deep trey. The glass-dominating Knights, however, would snare the board and Hinds capitalized on the second-chance situation as he quickly drilled a jumper.

After Hinds ripped off the individual 7-0 streak, Mount Vernon swelled the spread to 47-31.

Forget about running into a buzz saw. That's a cliche. Poughkeepsie encountered a murking machete masked as a man.

And as efficient as Hinds was on at the County Center--known better as the Barn That Ben Built, he clearly wasn't alone.

Brandon White, who scored 14 points and inhaled 20 rebounds, cleaned the glass at a frenetic rate few people on this side of Mr. Clean could simulate.

White's presence in the paint was a major factor as Mount Vernon owned the County Center backboards.

Manhattan-commit Dayvon Whitaker paced Poughkeepsie with 19 points, while springy forward Nate Gause added 17.

This season, lip-popping pundits and self-proclaimed basketball gurus (including the author of this piece) envisioned a New Rochelle conquest.

While a Huguenots team dripping with crafty scorers was favored to knock off the defending champion Knights (a feat they accomplished twice during the regular season, even running off a 32-9 fourth quarter scoring surge at Mount Vernon HS), Hinds was every bit the guard that Louisville, Seton Hall, UNLV, Virginia, and Wake Forest has been in active pursuit of.

White and the Knights hulking behemoths down low helped extinguish the notion that this Mount Vernon team is a one-man mauling machine.

Last night, Mount Vernon re-established its workayear image as a force to be reckoned with.

The glistening-gold, shiny souvenir once again belonged to the all homegrown product-comprised Knights. It's a glove-fit in the Gold Ball-encrusted Mount Vernon Basketball Awards Showcase.

Hinds is still a junior, still trying to eclipse the embryonic stage. He was head-and-shoulders better than everyone on the court last night, overcoming a rough first quarter in which Poughkeepsie fans showered him with a loud chorus of "overrated!" chants.


The road to the County Center, known better as the Barn That Ben Built (a reference to famed Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, who starred at Mount Vernon High School in the early 2000s), was sweeter than Caramel for the Carmel Rams girls Varsity basketball team.

Second-seeded Carmel overcame a spotty first half against Our Lady of Lourdes in the sectional quarterfinals, during which they trailed by as many as 13. The Rams surged ahead in the second half by relentlessly pounding the ball into the post where Brittany Horne imposed her will.

HOW THE RAMS FARED DURING THEIR FIRST-EVER APPEARANCE in the Barn That Ben Built, against New York State's fourth-ranked Mount Vernon team, was a different story.

Mount Vernon's Carece Moore, who had been relatively quiet through three quarters, buried two behemoth three-pointers.

Not only were the sweet-stroking Moore's timely treys daggers stabbing into the heart of the Rams, they underscored a blink-quick 14-0 streak allowing the Knights to break away with 1:43 remaining.

The Knights, who went on to win the Sectional championship, ran away with a 59-49 quarerfinal win which would wrap up the Rams' season.

"We couldn't recover from that," explained guard Sabrina Diaz, who scored nine points as a sparkplug off the pine. "We almost had it, but they hit some important threes we never recovered from."

The Rams (16-5) led by two at the half and chopped up an eight-point deficit in the third quarter.

Horne (13 points) drained a fall-down three-pointer as the third quarter buzzer sounded.

Horne's trifecta spurred a blink-quick 10-0 streak, as the Rams were eyeballing a 42-40 lead at the start of the fourth.

Kim Broccoli (8 points) drained a mammoth three-pointer and then soared to the cup for a transition lay-in to highlight the power spurt. The two teams traded jabs throughout the fourth quarter, but Moore's treys were the difference during a decisive 14-0 scoring spree.

"I don't want the kids to be disappointed,"said Rams coach Dan O'Hare. "We're going
to be very, very tough next year. We'regoing to have Sabrina, Brittany and Nikki
Oliver back."