Gorton's pressure sinks Saunders in semifinal
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Dane Williamson is waiting for his team’s time. Saunders had drawn so much attention for being the reigning Yonkers City champ. Riverside got hype a few early-season wins and Palisade Prep was recognized for being undefeated.
Well, for Williamson, Gorton’s time might finally be coming.
The Wolves definitely turned heads with Wednesday’s performance against Saunders in the Yonkers City tournament semifinal. They overwhelmed the Blue Devils with their full-court pressure in the second half and held on for an emotional 66-58 win at Saunders.
“It had to be defense,” Williamson said. “This was a physical game. We had to box out, get rebounds, dive for loose balls. You had to do whatever it takes to win. That’s what we did today.”
Gorton (7-4) secured a spot in the Yonkers City final against Riverside. They’ll meet on Saturday night at 5 p.m. back at Saunders.
The Wolves must defend Riverside the way they flustered Saunders on Wednesday, which Williamson and Rashon McKay played a vital role in.
McKay scored a game-high 23 points with seven steals and Williamson added 16 points and five steals. McKay, a junior point guard, was seemingly in the middle of every turnover Gorton forced in the second half, scoring 12 points after the break.
When Williamson was forced to sit part of the fourth quarter because of foul trouble, Kwun-Mel Fincher provided a major lift. He scored all 16 of his points in the third and fourth quarters, including three free throws in the final minute.
Saunders (7-4) squandered a 12-point lead in the second quarter as Gorton rallied to tie it 26-26 at halftime. In the third, the Blue Devils quickly went up seven before a 20-4 Gorton run helped it take a 47-42 lead into the fourth.
“At halftime we realized we were a little quicker off the dribble and that faster,” McKay said. “We knew we could press them.”
An intense fourth quarter came down to the final 1:55 after an Eric Mfwodo free throw for Saunders tied the game at 54-54. A three-point play for Fincher on the ensuing possession stalled the Blue Devils’ momentum.
McKay put the game away in the final minute. He forced a steal at midcourt and converted a layup and foul, putting Gorton up by four with 32.9 seconds.
“The intensity tonight was really high,” McKay said. “Every possession, the crowd was ‘ooh’ and ‘aah.’ It was a big game.”
The win was Gorton’s fourth in five games, a streak that started after their January 3 loss to Riverside.
“This is all about bragging rights,” McKay said. “We are all close and all know each other outside of school and all play together. Whoever wins this gets to be the talk of the town.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ