Maginn reaches state semis
Battle scores 34 points
By JAMES ALLEN, Staff writer
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First published: Sunday, March 11, 2007
SYRACUSE -- Talor Battle's hip was bothering him, and the Bishop Maginn senior point guard was noticeably limping in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's state Class AA regional final at Manley Fieldhouse.
But with the possibility of his fabulous high school career drawing to a close two hours from home, Battle showed off a new skill -- volleyball -- to spike another weekend of basketball for the Golden Griffins.
Battle -- with Proctor's Wesley Jackson and Rastafari Brown converging upon the same spot -- tipped a loose ball skyward and forward to avoid a collision. The Penn State-bound star chased down his own handiwork and laid it in for some all-important breathing room with 1:02 remaining in what turned out to be a 68-61 victory over the Raiders.
The Golden Griffins (22-3) advance to the state semifinals Saturday at Glens Falls Civic Center against the Fairport/Sweet Home winner. Game time is 12:30 p.m.
Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley praised the contributions of all his players after the game. When it came time to reflect on Battle's pass to himself, Hurley said, "That was one of the most unbelievable plays I've ever seen, and I've been coaching 13 years. To tip the ball -- in front of two guys -- to himself in a regional final against a very athletic team shows you the type of competitor Talor Battle is."
"It was a long rebound, and both those guys were charging for the basketball. I knew I couldn't grab it, so my best bet was to tip it out," Battle said. "I was hoping it would get over them. It did, and I laid it in. That was at a key point in the game when they were trying to get back in it."
Battle's final of 11 baskets on the evening provided Bishop Maginn a 64-59 lead. The senior finished with a game-high 34 points to help the Golden Griffins pull within two victories of a state title.
"It is incredible. We're on a wave right now, and we're going to keep riding it until it goes down," Battle said. "Hopefully, we can win this basketball game and get to the state championship."
When asked to compare Battle to the other top players Proctor (21-2) faced this season, coach Norm Stamboly responded, "He is as good as anybody we faced. He shot the ball extremely well tonight."
The Golden Griffins used a 9-0 spurt in the first quarter to grab a 14-7 lead. Bishop Maginn never lost that lead, though the Raiders did cut the deficit to 62-59 on a 3-pointer from Jackson.
Bishop Maginn advanced to Manley Fieldhouse with a 48-43 triumph over Christian Brothers Academy for the Section II title, avenging two earlier losses to the Brothers. Hurley believed a huge weight was lifted off Battle's shoulders by advancing out of Section II. That opinion would be hard to dispute Saturday. Battle drained four 3-pointers and consistently hit shots to stop mini-runs by Proctor.
"CBA is a great team. Everybody knows that," Battle said. "Once we got through that game, it was a momentum-booster for us. Now, we are starting to meet teams more like us."
Bishop Maginn and Proctor scrimmaged in November. Hurley realized his squad would have to find a way to contain 6-foot-3 junior star Deandre Preaster.
Maginn junior Shimeek Johnson drew the assignment and did not disappoint -- scoring eight points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking eight shots.
"Shimeek really did the job we needed him to do against Preaster," Hurley said. "He is a handful to deal with. But 'Shi' more than held his own, and those blocks were huge for us."
Terron Victoria scored 11 points and the trio of Bunduka Kargbo, Antonio Davis and Taran Bui each contributed four points for the Golden Griffins.
"Everybody has really come together. We're a unit and we continue to grow," Battle said. "We cannot wait to get back to the Civic Center."
James Allen can be reached at 454-5062 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .