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New Rochelle's Khalil Edney wasn't even going to play in Sunday's Section 1 Class AA final against Mt. Vernon. The senior forward suffered a sprained ankle in a scrimmage against Byram Hills last Saturday and was forced to sit out the Huguenots' semifinal win over Mahopac on Friday.
Following the semifinal game, Edney approached New Rochelle coach Rasaun Young and delivered a simple message.
"I'm playing," Edney said to Young. "I'm playing on Sunday."
And boy were the Huguenots glad he did.
Edney, who didn't practice all week, sank a miraculous 55-foot buzzer-beating shot to lift New Rochelle to a thrilling 61-60 victory over seven-time defending champ Mt. Vernon at the Westchester County Center.
"I was just praying for it to go in," Edney said to MSG Varsity's Chad Cutler of the miracle shot. "That's one of them last-second things you throw up and it goes in."
The officials initially waived off the shot, however, they huddled together at center court and correctly reversed the decision.
The play began with 2.9 seconds left in regulation and the Huguenots trailing by two. Edney, positioned on New Rochelle's baseline, threw a baseball pass to teammate Joe Clarke near center court. The duo — with Edney at quarterback and Clarke at tight end — had hooked up countless times during the fall to lead New Rochelle to a state title in football. This wasn't one of those times. Mt. Vernon's Jalen David jumped into the passing lane and deflected the ball. Teammate Devonte Banner scooped it up and floated a pass forward to Traquann Scales. Edney jumped into action, reading the play perfectly. He then stole the ball and released the shot in practically the same motion.
"I'm shocked right now," said Edney, who finished with seven points and nine rebounds. "We were down the whole game and I'm on a hurt ankle and playing through the pain. Coach said that I had to come through. I had a bad first half and stuck through it in the second half."
New Rochelle trailed 59-49 with three minutes to go before closing the game on a 12-1 run. Clarke took home MVP honors with 30 points. Derek Dorn finished the game with 14 points.
Josh Doughty led Mt. Vernon with 11 points, eight assists and seven steals. Jamal Lewis and Banner added 10 points apiece.
Super Bowl champ Ray Rice — a 2005 New Rochelle graduate — was in the backcourt the last time a team knocked off Mt. Vernon in a Section 1 final. Rice attended the semifinal win over Mahopac and spoke to Clarke after the game.
"(Rice) said New Rochelle hasn't won a Gold Ball since '05 when he was here," Clarke said. "It just took hard work, dedication and first and foremost it took heart. We had to come out here with heart. We couldn't let Mt. Vernon come out here and take our heart. We didn't let them take our heart and got that W."
New Rochelle will move on to play Section 4 champ Binghamton in the NYS regional semis on Tuesday at SUNY Purchase at 4 p.m.
New Rochelle 9 16 16 20 61
Mt. Vernon 13 17 18 12 60
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Email John Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Malone
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass