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Knox falls short at state championships

Kahlynn Lafond of Knox with ball. The NYSAIS

Kahlynn Lafond of Knox with ball. The NYSAIS Class C boys basketball state final between the Knox School (of St. James) and the Masters School in Harrison, NY on Feb. 26th, 2018. Credit: Richard Harbus

RYE, N.Y. — The final inbounds play came with 2.3 seconds left and brought heavy pressure under The Masters School basket.

Knox guard Brett Talbert deflected The Masters School’s inbounds pass and batted it to Ismail Yilmaz deep in the corner. Trailing by three, Yilmaz rushed the long three-pointer as time expired.

The shot came up just short.

Knox School was denied in its first attempt to win a state boys basketball title as The Masters School held on for a 74-71 win before a boisterous crowd Monday night in the New York State Association of Independent Schools Class C state final at Holy Child School in Rye. It was The Masters School’s third state title.

Junior Nicolas Rivera-Torres led all scorers with 35 points and keyed a 14-0 fourth-quarter run with six points and three rebounds.

“Rivera-Torres has guard skills for a big man and he can get physical and bang with the best of them when he needs to,” Masters School coach Matt Kammrath said. “We just kept grinding and felt if we could keep it close we’d have a chance late in the game.”

The Masters School (18-7) trailed by 10 at 63-53 with 5:22 left in the game. The Panthers went on a 14-0 run for a 67-63 lead with 1:55 left. Knox (25-3) went scoreless in nine straight trips down the floor, the final turnover when 6-5 Kach Ugochukwu took a hard charge. Brett Talbert’s two free throws to make it 67-65 with 1:39 left ended the run.

“We had to meet their aggression by going around and by them and making smart passes,” Kammrath said. “We’ve been good under pressure at the free-throw line and we’ve been tested in close games all year long.”

The Masters School struggled to find a solution to stop Knox senior Quintin Williams. Williams scored 18 first-half points, including four three-pointers as Knox built a 13-point lead before settling for a 39-32 halftime advantage.

“Williams is the best player we’ve seen all season,” Kammrath said. “He’s playing at a college level already.”

Williams finished with 29 points, four assists and seven steals. Talbert and Khallyn Lafond chipped in 13 points each.

But it wasn’t enough as Knox School just missed on its state title bid.

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