Mar 07, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Erik Saroney’s theory of how the Henninger boys basketball team he coaches pulled off its 73-69 overtime victory over Utica Proctor to earn the Section III Class AA championship was quite simple.
Two previous times this season, the Black Knights had lost to the Raiders. Saroney said the Dec. 23 defeat was a direct result of a young squad still finding its way, while the Jan. 21 setback at Proctor (a 66-48 loss) was just an out-of-character bad performance.
On this night, said Saroney, “they got Henninger.”
Indeed they did. In front of a large, pro-Proctor crowd at Utica Memorial Auditorium, Henninger somehow survived three starters fouling out and won its first sectional title since 2008 by getting an unexpected boost from reserve
Terrell Nelson, who led the Black Knights with 19 points, most of them in the late stages.
It wasn’t locked up until another reserve, Charles Manning, sank a free throw with 5.1 seconds left to increase Henninger’s 72-69 margin by one, finally putting it out of the top-seeded Raiders’ reach.
The foul line told a large part of this story. Henninger, not known for good work at the line, went 10-for-12 in the fourth quarter and OT and, overall, went 26-for-33 from the line.
“We had to believe we could do it (at the line), and we did,” said Saroney.
Meanwhile, Proctor also took 33 foul shots, but only made 17 – no misses bigger than Maurice Mills’ pair of misses with 21.5 seconds left in the extra period and Proctor down by two.
All this was part of a frantic, energetic and emotional game where Henninger, despite all of its foul woes, closed the first half strong and led 35-27 at the break, only to have Proctor catch up in the third quarter, Keenan Brown’s 3-pointer tying it 44-44 with one quarter left.
Again, the Black Knights led most of the final period. Again, the Raiders rallied, getting a pair of clutch 3-pointers from Jayson Jackson, the latter coming with a minute left to put Proctor ahead 60-59, to the deafening roar of the home fans.
While all this was going on, Nelson, who never played varsity basketball until his senior season, was notching 10 points in the fourth quarter, everything from a 3-pointer to a rebound basket that, with 32 seconds to play, put Henninger back in front 61-60.
Fouled with 15.9 seconds left in regulation, Walkery Mills missed the first free throw, but made the second to tie it 61-61. The Black Knights had the last shot, and Nelson took it from 25 feet out – but it caromed off the rim. So it went to overtime, just like the 2009 final where Henninger, led by the late Kihary Blue, lost to CBA.
Two starters, Marquies Young and Kavon Delee, had fouled out, so it wasn’t surprising that Proctor took leads of 67-63 and 69-67 in the OT. Still, Henninger fought back and held the Raiders without a field goal in the last 2:45 of the game.
Markell Stith, before he fouled out, made the go-ahead free throws with 27.4 seconds left, breaking a 69-69 tie, and Tommie Gainey made it 72-69 with 10.5 seconds left before Manning finally put it away.
Tevin Chisholm, the point guard who chose to wear no. 4 in Blue’s honor, had 18 points, six of them in the overtime, while Delee had 12 points and Stith got eight points.
Henninger will play Saturday in the Class AA regional final against the Section II champions at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. The winner gets a trip to Glens Falls for next weekend’s state final four, where the Black Knights won it all in 2002.