* * *
McKinley made history today.
The Macks won their first state title with an epic, 76-73 overtime victory over Burke Catholic in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A championship game before an estimated 2,500 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
It is the first state championship by a Yale Cup large school since Bennett won in Class B in 1984. Prior to 2004, the state was divided into four classes (A, B, C and D).
McKinley's title came by beating three private schools in the "public" high school playoffs: Aquinas of Section V (Rochester) in the Far West Regionals, Bishop Ludden of Section III (Syracuse) in Saturday's semifinals and Burke Catholic of Section IX (Dutchess County). Unlike Section VI, many sections within the NYSPHSAA have private schools as members.
Senior Lovell Smith earned MVP honors by scoring 24 points on 12-of-18 shooting, a performance that the Macks needed when leading scorer Marcus Morris was forced to the bench with foul trouble. Smith also had eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
Morris, a senior, had 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including 2 of 6 from three-point range, and seven rebounds and finished with four fouls; he picked up his fourth late in the third quarter.
McKinley, as it has done throughout the postseason, appeared it would claim control of the game in the third quarter. The Macks played exceptionally, outscoring Burke, 22-15, to take a 47-41 lead to the fourth.The highlight of the third was a play in which all five Macks touched the ball going from defense to offense. Senior Daequan Warren (six points, eight rebounds, two blocks, two assists, two steals) blocked a shot on defense, Morris grabbed the ball and threw a long pass downcourt to senior Reyjzon Jordan, who found Lovell Smith, who hit senior Samuel Smith, who scored while being fouled for a 43-36 lead with 1:16 left in the third. The free throw missed, but another Lovell Smith-finished break would put McKinley up nine (45-36).
McKinley's lead hovered around eight before it reached nine again (57-48) when Jordan beat his man and hit a bank shot.
From there, a Burke Catholic team making its fourth straight appearance in Glens Falls (Class B champion in 2011, Class B semifinalist last year) showed its final four pedigree. The Eagles went on what would be a 12-0 run during which McKinley displayed some questionable shot selection into the final minute. Burke Catholic junior Michael Coffey swished one of his four three-pointers from the right corner to put Burke up, 60-57, with 47.8 seconds to play.
Morris missed a three on the next possession, but the Macks earned several offensive rebounds and the ball was tapped back out to Morris, who nailed an NBA-range three from the left side to tie it at 60.
Burke 6-6 senior Stan Buczek (19 points) was fouled down low with 14 seconds left. He hit both. Jordan then drove and passed to Samuel Smith, who had Buczek fall on him for a foul with 5.8 seconds left.
At first, the Macks had Morris step up to the line, but the officials conferred and ruled that Samuel Smith (10 points, four assists) had been fouled. He hit the first free throw, then, after a timeout, he hit the second to tie the game. Burke's runner from inside halfcourt at the buzzer was off.
In overtime, Morris tied the game at 67 by hitting the first of two free throws with 1:40 left. His second missed, the Macks fought for the rebound and a tieup was ruled, with the possession arrow in favor of McKinley. That possession would lead to the Macks ultimately taking the lead for good on an inbound play from Jordan to an open Lovell Smith on the left side of the basket for a 69-67 lead.
After a 1-for-2 trip to the line for Buczek (the foul was Warren's fifth), Morris drove the basket in the final minute, spun, passed to Lovell Smith on the left -- his layup missed, but Morris got up to tip it in for a three-point lead (71-68) with 48 seconds to go.
Burke came within 71-70 with 37.3 left on a Buczek reverse layup, but the Macks closed the game by hitting four straight free throws: two by Jordan (11 points, four assists, three steals and excellent defense on Burke point guard Jack Dwyer) with 33.2 seconds left (73-70), and -- after a lengthy Burke possession that ended with a Dwyer leaner (73-72) -- two by reserve Stephen Johnson (nine points, five rebounds) with 6.2 seconds left that put McKinley's lead at 75-72.
Burke came upcourt and Coffey was fouled with 2.6 seconds left as Samuel Smith contested a pass. Coffey hit the first free throw (75-73) and missed the second, but Lovell Smith secured the rebound and was fouled with 0.7 seconds left. He hit one and Burke's inbounds heave was intercepted by Samuel Smith.
After the Macks shot over 50 percent from the field in its last two games, they shot 46.9 percent Sunday (31 of 66). It limited Burke to 41 percent (23 of 56). The Macks also did not shoot as well from three-point-range as it had in its last two outings as it went 3 of 14.
McKinley's championship also marks the first time since 1984 that a Section VI large school not from Niagara Falls (that includes LaSalle) has won a state championship., Sweet Home (Class A) joined Bennett as a state champion that season.
* * *
McKinley's season will continue at next weekend's state Federation Tournament of Champions, which brings together the NYSPHSAA champion with the winners of the state's Catholic and independent associations as well as New York City's Public Schools Athletic League.
McKinley (22-3) plays PSAL champion John Adams (24-5) in the Federation Class A semifinals at 1:30 Friday at Albany's Times Union Center. In the other semifinal, to be played at 3:15 p.m. Friday, are state Catholic champ Nazareth (which beat Canisius for that title) and independent representative Albany Academy. The title game is at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Review the live blog of Sunday's final here:
* * *
Check our scoreboard page for a complete day-by-day high school schedule. It is updated with a box score from this game.
Keep checking back here on the blog as well as our video page for PrepTalkTV videos of high school action. The video page has an archive of many recent videos, including several from the last few days.
* * *
And be sure to catch PrepTalkTV Weekly every Wednesday at 9 p.m. as Lauren Mariacher and I will have special guests, highlights and analysis in our live video show. McKinley will be our guests Wednesday.