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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Albertus Magnus took on White Plains Monday night in the opening round of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center and proved to the rest of Section 1 that Class B champs are a team to be reckoned with.
Magnus defeated White Plains 59-53 in a thorough team effort to improve to 4-1 on the season. Tyler Sayre had 16 points and four rebounds while fellow senior Pat McGuinness had a complete day with 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“It’s still early in the season but so many of these guys know their roles already,” Magnus coach Pat McFadden said. “I think we have players who can fulfill multiple roles which is nice.”
The key to the game may have been free-throw shooting. White Plains went 4-14 from the line while Magnus went 15-19.
Falcon’s junior forward Tom McConnell is the only new player in the Magnus starting rotation. He is 6-foot-2 of hustle and grit. His non-stop grind on the boards led to the foul line where he made 7 for 8, including some big shots down the stretch to help fend off the Tiger comeback.
“I just have to know my position on this team and get on the floor and get rebounds,” McConnell said. “I know the rest of my players will back me up with the points.”
White Plains actually led by five after the first quarter and stayed in the game until the very end. Senior forwards Akeem Anthony and Anthony Williams combined for 38 points and 12 rebounds and gave the Falcons trouble from every spot on the floor.
Williams tied the score at 51-51 on a put-back with 2:45 to go and McFadden called a key timeout. The Falcons came out fired up and scored 6 quick points, the final three on junior Jack Sullivan’s fourth 3-pointer of the day. Sullivan finished with 16 points.
“I wish I could say I taught (Sullivan) it,” said McFadden of Sullivan’s high, arcing three-point shot. “He’s a great shooter, he’s a great competitor and I’m glad we have him.”
The Falcons showed great resiliency in fighting off a talented Tigers squad. White Plains (2-3) played tough throughout the game but could never maintain a consistent offensive scheme and obviously the missed free throws killed them.
Coach McFadden recognizes his team’s fortitude in tough situations.
“As a group we’ve been through a number of big games and I think you can bend us but it’s going to take a lot to break us,” he said.
Magnus will face the winner of the Poughkeepsie v. Byram Hills game in the finals tomorrow night at 8 p.m.