BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – With Isaiah Cousins and William Robinson benched for violating team rules and Jarrel Marshall still sidelined as he recovers from a concussion, Brandon Martin knew Friday’s fifth-place game in the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic was an audition.
“I had to go out there and prove to the coaches I could do what they needed me to do and fill in for Will,” Mount Vernon’s sophomore forward said.
Martin passed that test with flying colors, helping the Knights to a 61-55 win against St. Rita (Ill.) at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
“I think I played great,” Martin said. “I took the opportunity and went at the other team.”
Martin, who had five points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench, was one of several reserves who stepped up in the victory. Fellow sophomore Yhanni Bartley had seven points in seven minutes and backup point guards Traquann Scales and Mark Mitchell provided defensive intensity, helping force 17 turnovers.
“They’re both little piranhas and they came in and really did some good things for us,” Mount coach Bob Cimmino said.
Joshua Doughty led all scorers with 15 points, shooting 3-of-5 from 3-point range, Qwadene Lovell was 1-of-13 from the field, but went 10-of-14 from the foul line to finish with 13 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals and Randy Stephens was solid again with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“There were some big baskets Josh made, a monumental basket Randy made and Qwadene has played with a thumb twice its normal size the entire tournament so I’ll be glad to get him some rest,” Cimmino said.
Mount Vernon (4-1) opened the tournament with a hard-fought loss to Neumann Goretti (Pa.), but bounced back well to defeat Seton Catholic and St. Rita to finish fifth.
“It was a hard challenge playing all these teams, they’re all good, but we’re a tough team and we fought through it,” Doughty said.
The Knights also believe the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic provides a good primer for their huge clash against archrival New Rochelle Wednesday.
“These three games were tests and we did what we could,” Martin said. “The last two games we did great, picked it up and finished strong. We’re going to have to go into [New Rochelle] strong too.”
St. Rita (6-5) was led by Tony Hicks, who had 12 points, and Dominque Matthews added 10 points off the bench. But Mount Vernon raced out to a 13-6 lead after the first quarter and never trailed.
While Cimmino is pleased with his team’s ability to bounce back after a difficult opening-round loss, he said the defending New York State Federation Class AA champions still have a long way to go as he assessed his team’s overall performance in Binghamton.
“It looked liked we had only played two games [coming in],” Cimmino said. “I thought maybe we could skate through and grow up real quickly with a win against Neumann Goretti and it didn’t happen. We have to get a lot better and I still have to learn how to coach them.”
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