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Quinton Williams still in a groove as he lifts Knox in NYSAIS tourney

The 6-2 senior scores 20 points in the first half as the Falcons take 48-26 lead.

Top-seeded Knox defeated No. 8 Loyola, 76-57, in the quarterfinals of the NYSAIS C Division boys basketball tournament, at The Knox School, on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Credit: Newsday / Owen O'Brien)

Knox boys basketball coach Majestic Mapp may see it every day at practice, but efficiency like from Quinton Williams Thursday night doesn’t come around very often.

“He’s always in a groove,” Mapp said. “When he’s not in a groove, we have some issues because as you can see, he scores the ball at will.”

Williams, a Bellport native, hit all eight of his first-half field goals en route to a 24-point performance to lead host Knox to a 76-57 victory over Loyola in the quarterfinals of the NYSAIS C Division boys basketball tournament.

Top-seeded Knox (24-2) hosts No. 5 Staten Island at 2 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.

Knox hit its first seven shots of the game, opening an 18-4 advantage through four minutes, and continued to build on its lead as eight players scored in the team’s 28-point first quarter.

“We felt really good,” Williams said. “We were prepared for this and we got the job done.”

Specifically, Williams was feeling good, as the 6-2 senior set the pace, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the opening 16 minutes as the Falcons took a 48-26 halftime lead.

“When he’s in that mode, he just really gets the whole team going,” said Brett Talbert, of Deer Park, who added 12 points in the win.

Knox is coming off its first PSAA title in school history, athletic director Walter Townes said, after defeating Martin Luther, 82-47, Feb. 15. Mapp called this season “surreal” but passes all credit for the team’s success to his players.

“These are a great group of kids,” Mapp said. “They’ve been amazing all year and at the end of the day, I’m proud of them.”

With the team’s success, Mapp is noticing a different way the school is being perceived.

“We’ve created a culture here where people are taking Knox sports seriously,” Mapp said. “And I think people are realizing we are making something special and we just keep building.”

With a victory Saturday, Knox will have the opportunity at another first: Playing in a state championship, on Monday.

“When we started, we said we wanted to put a championship banner up and we’re ‘this close,’ ” Mapp said. “So at the end of the day, we just take one game at a time and realize and recognize it’s really about one game.”

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