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GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Isaiah Cousins soared through the air as time expired, throwing down a two-hand dunk that was meaningless on the scoreboard but thunderous across the state.
Cousins’ dunk put an exclamation point another incredible Mount Vernon season. The Knights captured their record 10th state championship and second in a row with a 61-57 victory over Aquinas on Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Mount Vernon, which led by as many as 12 in the third, withstood a late charge from Aquinas, which actually took a brief lead with three minutes to play. Jarrel Marshall and Cousins, though, came up with key plays late to seal it.
“The effort was tremendous,” Knights coach Bob Cimmino said. “I’m proud of the way we kept fighting back; the steals, the composure. We had some opportunities to lose our cool but they didn’t.”
Cousins finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists to earn all-tournament honors. Marshall added 13 points and six rebounds, and Qwadere Lovell had 10 points in the victory.
“They made that great run,” Marshall said. “They came back and took that lead. But we didn’t get down and we kept our composure.”
Marshall said the team wasn’t rattled by Aquinas’ comeback.
“Losing happens sometimes,” Marshall said. “But we don’t let it happen too much.”
Mount Vernon (23-2) will look to defend its Federation title this weekend in Albany. The Knights get a bye into the title game and face the winner of Boys & Girls and St. Raymond on Saturday night.
The Knights won Sunday’s title just hours after coach Bob Cimmino was inducted into the state basketball Hall of Fame. The ceremony was actually a brunch held at the Civic Center early in the day.
For Cimmino, the title was his sixth as a head coach at Mount Vernon, which sets a new state record.
“It’s a reflection of all the good people who’ve come through our program, and of course the players are number one,” Cimmino said. “The coaching staff I have, they’re all tremendous people and all they know their niche. They’re tremendous to death.”
Cimmino said he actually tried not to think at all about the game during the brunch.
“I constantly say that,” Cimmino said of having the “best job in the world.”
“I’m the varsity basketball coach at Mount Vernon High School and I teach social studies. There’s just very, very loyal, hard-working people around me.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org