Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mount Vernon's Frontline Overwhelms Rival White Plains

The familiarity of the foe helped Mount Vernon prepare for White Plains, which entered the latest edition of this classic Westchester rivalry game undefeated. 

Beyond scouting and dissecting film on the Tigers, Mount Vernon is well-versed in the game of White Plains' Mike DeMello and Justin Tapper.

 The current Tigers teammates ran with the Knights on the grass-roots circuit back in the day. 

Now, they are on the other side of the border.    

Mount Vernon forward Brandon Martin said there was no time for sustaining old friendships on Wednesday.

There was no time for harkening back on glory days with the Mount Vernon Junior Knights.

This was about business.

“The rivalry is important to us, but it's just like any other game really,” said Martin, who had a workman-like 15 points in Mount Vernon’s 47-39 victory of the Tigers.

"Mike played with us (on the Junior Knights). Tapper played with us also.  Jordan (Tucker) played at our camp a few summers ago. Today, we just had to focus on ourselves and get the win. I mean, all of our games are important. Every game this year is going to be a big game, that’s just the way we look at it. We’re not taking nobody lightly.”

 Devonte Banner, arguably Section I's best and most complete-packaged player, was saddled with foul trouble.

So, Martin and Judah Alexander solidified the paint as Mount Vernon improved to 6-1.

Alexander, who pounded the glass with a ferocity during the Knights’ recent Hawaii trip, was vital in the second half.

“When Devonte goes out, I really just play the same game,” Martin said.

“Sometimes coach (Bob) Cimmino will bump me up to the three-position. Not much changes. Me and Judah will try to control everything inside and step it up in the paint.”

With a spate of excessive foul calls eliminating Mount Vernon's frenetic rim-to-rim game, the Knights were able to thrive in the low post.

Martin tore down a game-high 16 rebounds, 10 on offensive glass.

Alexander supplemented his nine points with 13 rebounds.
Both players were integral in manipulating, changing, influencing, and altering the trajectory of shots in the paint.

That was pivotal, considering White Plains missed four layups in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers (6-1) struggled mightily from beyond the arc throughout, shooting 5-for-21.

Mount Vernon shot 17 free throws to White Plains' 0 in the decisive fourth quarter. The Tigers were outscored, 16-8, in those final eight minutes.  
Tapper, who grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in the Slam Dunk Challenge championship game, was at it again.

 Tapper--rhymes with scrapper--paced the undersized Tigers with 13 boards.  

While another chapter in this storied rivalry goes into the books, the basketball Gods likely will refrain from applying illustrations or snapshots.

The game was not much for aesthetic value.

 Shots at point-blank were missed. Layups rolled off the rim.

For a game between two teams of this caliber, it was jarringly ugly. 

It was really ugly.

Heck, it was even uglier than seeing Rosie O’Donnell give Michael Moore a table dance while Sam Cassell watches.

You get the point.

A whistle-happy trio didn’t help, slowing down Mount Vernon’s patented souped-up attack.

Hordes of spectators came to see the athletes compete. Instead, they were forced into watching a yawn-inducing free throw display.

The battle on the backboards ran parallel to the battle for less referee intervention, as fans called for the refs’ jobs without hesitation.

Tapper’s put-back beat the third quarter buzzer, sending the two teams into the fourth quarter in a 31-31 deadlock.

 While both teams wilted under the weight of a fourth quarter power outage, Mount Vernon rattled off two straight scoring possessions to lurch ahead.

Martin manhandled his way to a layup, supplying the Knights with a 35-31 edge at the start of the fourth.

Mount Vernon was able to close the deal through a steady dose of—surprise, surprise—free throws.

The FT clinic began when Mount Vernon’s Akeem Krubally knocked down a pair, supplying Mount Vernon with 40-36 edge.

With the long arms swarming in unison and White Plains struggling to bag a timely 3-pointer, Mount Vernon closed the deal with Martin’s icing-of-the-game free throws.

Too many opportunities went by the wayside for the Tigers.

DeMello was negated by foul trouble in the first half.

The senior, who scored nine points, was charged with two fouls in the opening two minutes. Freshman Jordan Tucker (seven points) was also plagued by foul trouble.

“It’s a long season,” said DeMello, who may be healing black-and-blue marks of this ultra-physical affair.  

“All we can is learn from it. We’ll be in the gym tomorrow, getting ready for the next one. That’s all we’re focused on right now.” 

Mount Vernon is focused on another Sectional championship. The Knights are thirsting for revenge following a one-year hiatus from the Gold Ball.

 See Edney, Khalil or “New Rochelle buzzer beater” for more information on Mount Vernon's one-year sabbatical from Section I's shiny souvenir.

In Hawaii, Banner was rendered un-guardable against the star-spangled backcourt  of Chicago-based St. Rita.

 With a number of highly-courted recruits masking him, Banner buried momentum 3-pointers and hit timely shots against coach Gary DeCesare, who established a legacy while at St. Raymond's in the Bronx.

Banner dropped 27 points, including the game-winning jumper.

With Banner's scoring pace and the ramped up frontcourt, the Knights have emerged into early favorites. Banner will play a pivotal role in helping the Knights hang a banner.

 Limited by foul trouble and the slow-ball tempo which tight officiating dictated, Mount Vernon's Martin lifted the Knights to the win. He gained some bragging rights over former teammates in the process.