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Peak one step away
Bishop Maginn takes semis, makes today's state final

By JAMES ALLEN, Staff writer
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First published: Sunday, March 18, 2007

GLENS FALLS -- Fans hoping to get a glimpse of vintage Talor Battle Saturday afternoon might have departed Glens Falls Civic Center a bit disappointed after witnessing the Bishop Maginn senior point guard score a season-low 12 points.

Most importantly, the Golden Griffins did not leave the Civic Center upset.

Bishop Maginn survived a miserable offensive performance in the first half of its state Class AA semifinal against Fairport before seizing command in the third quarter with a pair of substantial runs. The Golden Griffins placed five players in double figures in scoring and used outstanding foul shooting down the stretch to advance to today's state Class AA boys' basketball championship game with a 68-63 victory over the Red Raiders.

Up next for the Golden Griffins (23-3) is a title matchup with Section I power Mount Vernon (23-4) -- the defending state champion -- at 2:45 p.m.

Bishop Maginn prevailed despite surrendering all of a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and having its No. 1 offensive option in Battle connect on just 3 of 14 shot attempts.

"We have a lot of great individuals. At the beginning of the year, we stressed discipline. Everybody had to come together to play their roles," Bishop Maginn junior reserve Terron Victoria said. "Everybody finally came together halfway through the year. We had a few ups and downs as a team, but now we're here in the state championship."

Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley knew at the beginning of the season he had seven players not named Battle capable of scoring 15 points every night out.

Saturday, Shimeek Johnson led the way with 14 points. Joining Battle in double digits in points were Victoria (11), Taran Buie (10) and Jalaun Taylor (10) -- with Antonio Davis chipping in nine points.

"We tend to have a lot of people in the double-figures range in scoring. We all rebound (well) as a team and we like playing defense," said Buie, Battle's younger brother.

The Golden Griffins moved one win away from the school's first boys' basketball state title after surviving just 9-of-34 shooting accuracy in the first half (26.4 percent). Fairport made 10-of-20 shots during the first 16 minutes to establish a 28-22 lead.

Asked what he said at halftime, Hurley responded, "I told them, 'Let's start playing some basketball and let's start moving because we were kind of stuck in mud in the first half.' We sort of stood around and watched one guy dribble. We had to pick up our defense."

Hurley's message found takers as the Golden Griffins proceeded to score 13 straight points to grab a 35-28 lead on a basket by Battle.

The Red Raiders refused to go quietly and when Kyle Downey (19 points, 10 rebounds) capped a 16-4 spurt with a basket with 2:45 left in the game, Fairport led 55-54.

Victoria delivered an emphatic response for Bishop Maginn by driving past two defenders to put the Golden Griffins ahead to stay.

"From the beginning of the year, we always stressed press the ball (after the other team scores) -- keep pushing the rock and don't lose your head," Victoria said.

"He is a guy that could probably start for us all year," Hurley said of Victoria. "We don't look at it as a starting five. We have seven or eight guys who can start. He has been in this role for us and I'm proud of him."