MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – For one half, the third-seeded Mount Vernon High School boys' basketball team truly struggled.
Sixth-seeded Fox Lane matched the Knights shot for shot in the first part of Wednesday’s Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal game. Then, Mount Vernon went into another gear and blew the game wide open in the fourth quarter to register a 66-40 win and advance to the semifinals at the Westchester County Center.
The turning point for the Knights came in the final moments of the first half, when they scored two quick buckets to give themselves a five-point cushion at halftime.
“I think that was huge. I really do,” said head coach Bob Cimmino. “The two baskets, I think it brought us up here saying, ‘Okay, let’s go to work. Let’s do what we’re supposed to do.’ ”
Mount Vernon led 26-21 at the half and 45-35 after three quarters as Fox Lane scrapped and clawed to stay alive against the Knights. Mount Vernon continued to utilize its deep bench in the fourth quarter as Fox Lane became more and more exhausted.
The Foxes played as a team that truly gave Mount Vernon its best shot and wanted to knock off the perennial powerhouse. Cimmino reminded his team that it very well could happen.
“I just challenged the fellas saying, ‘You’ve been together for a long time. Would you like this to be your last game or do you want to stay together as a team?' ” Cimmino said. “I try to constantly reinforce that, that in order to keep on going, we've got to win.”
Mount Vernon will return to the County Center as it seemingly does every year. senior Jalen David, who has experienced quite a few postseason trips, said it still is special every time the Knights make it official.
“Even though it’s the typical Mount Vernon, it’s still nice to get back there,” David said. “It shows that our hard work and determination pays off.”