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MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — New Rochelle held a one-point lead over Mount Vernon for about five seconds midway through the second quarter on Tuesday. But that was as close as the Huguenots would come to upsetting the top-seeded Knights.
Not even a virtuoso performance in the second half by New Rochelle’s Kirkland Ottey could stop Mount Vernon as it rolled to a 74-59 victory in a Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal matchup. The six-time champs advanced to the semifinals against Clarkstown South on March 2 at the Westchester County Center.
“It was a rivalry game and hard fought. I’m very happy with the way we played,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said. “It wasn’t always sharp but we did some very good things and I’m glad that we’re surviving and advancing.”
The game started slowly as each team struggled to find their flow. The refs were quick with the whistle on both teams and New Rochelle stayed in the game early as a result of excellent free-throw shooting.
New Rochelle stayed with Mount Vernon and suddenly the Huguenots took a 19-18 lead with five minutes remaining the second quarter. Unfortunately for New Rochelle, falling behind seemed to finally kick the Knights into gear and they outscored New Rochelle 19-2 over the final minutes for a 37-21 halftime lead.
The impetus for the Mount Vernon run was the inspired play of Joshua Doughty and his six second-quarter points. Doughty came off the bench and immediately injected energy into his team on both sides of the floor.
“Josh really could start but I bring him off the bench because I really believe that a player like him coming off the bench demoralizes a lot of teams,” Cimmino said. “When we bring Josh in off the bench we’re not losing anything and in fact often we gain from it.”
Mt. Vernon maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second half but the true star of the final two frames was New Rochelle’s Kirkland Ottey. After not playing in the first half, Ottey caught fire and scored 25 points, including four three-pointers. Ottey never seemed to miss and even the hugely pro-Knight crowd took notice as he drained jumpers and slashed into the lane.
Once again Mount Vernon will head off to the County Center. The venue at which most teams strive to complete their season is often just a warm-up for the Knights as they set their sights on defending the Federation championship.
Josh Doughty and the Knights will be ready.
“They better be ready to play,” Doughty said. “Whoever it is better bring their defense and bring everything because we’ll definitely be ready to go.”