Dec 17, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
It was just the sort of stunning, dramatic moment Kihary Blue would have loved, if only he were here to see it.
When Henninger boys basketball junior guard Quashwan Gainey heaved a 65-foot shot that banged off the glass and swished through the net at the end of the first half of Friday night’s season opener against Christian Brothers Academy in the Peppino’s Invitational, the Black Knights turned the game in its favor – and didn’t stop until it had beaten the Brothers 66-61.
Henninger took the court still carrying heavy hearts 18 days after Blue, the school’s star point guard and quarterback who led both the basketball and football teams to Section III Class AA championships, died at age 19 of a gunshot wound suffered while riding in a car in Syracuse Nov. 26.
Head coach Erik Saroney said his team needed to move ahead after all the time spent mourning and reflecting on Blue’s life and death in the weeks prior to the opener.
“It was a relief to get on the court,” he said. “We just needed to play.”
With Blue’s mother present, and his sister part of Henninger’s cheerleading squad, the crowd observed a moment of silence in Blue’s memory before the game tipped off.
The start proved shaky, as CBA led 7-0 within the game’s opening minute. But the Black Knights only allowed one field goal the rest of the first quarter, spreading out its man-to-man defense and using its size to disrupt the Brothers’ passing and force turnovers.
That trend continued into the second quarter, as Henninger led by as much as 11 points (25-14) before CBA went on a 14-3 run. With one second left in the half, Greg Thomson’s free throws made it 31-28, and it looked to be a three-point margin going into the break.
In that single second, though, everything changed.
Gainey took the inbounds pass and, knowing he had to get rid of the ball, let it fly. It appeared too strong, but the ball hit the backboard and front rim and crashed through the net, instantly doubling Henninger’s lead to 34-28 and leaving CBA stricken.
“He (Gainey) had the presence of mind to know the clock situation,” said Saroney. “It gave us some momentum.”
Charged up by the answered prayer, Henninger dominated much of the third quarter, as Kavon Delee got eight of his 16 points in that frame. By the early part of the final period, the Black Knights had a 55-38 advantage, and it appeared safe.
But the Brothers refused to go away. Sparked by reserve Dylan Haines’ back-to-back 3-pointers, CBA chipped away in the closing minutes, committing a series of fouls as the margin fell to single digits. Shakir Evans, who had a game-high 24 points, and Pete Drescher, who added 16 points, led that late charge.
Fittitngly, it was junior point guard Tevin Chisholm that hit on three crucial free throws in the game’s final 90 seconds to help seal the victory. Chisholm had chosen to wear Kihary Blue’s no. 4 in honor of his fallen friend, who had become a mentor to Chisholm in the months prior to his death.
Chisholm finished with 14 points, most of them in the second half, as Tommie Spinner and Charles Manning each put up eight points and Gainey added seven points – none bigger than the long heave that helped point the way to a bittersweet win.
Henninger did not have a letdown on Saturday night, either, as it held off Fairport (Section V) 51-47. The Black Knights zoomed to a 14-7 first-quarter lead, then fended off the Red Raiders’ late charges.
Markell Stith and Marquies Young both had double-doubles for Henninger, as Stith got 11 points and 14 rebounds and Young earned 11 points and 12 rebounds. Spinner also had 11 points and Chisholm contributed nine points.