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Mecca beckons

Photo by Nick Piatek, Livingston Manor’s Troy Correa rises up for two of his 40 points in the epic quarterfinal win.

March 15, 2012

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Good things do come in small packages. Class D Livingston Manor, which is tiny compared to the usual larger school headline grabbers in Section 9, now looms huge as its boys and girls basketball teams head to their respective state Final Fours. This unforeseen and unprecedented fairy tale follows a week of regional success that quickly overshadowed the exuberance of the recent Section 9 title victories.

Just a week after reveling in its first-ever boys basketball sectional title and the end of a 12-year girls drought, the party continues apace behind regional game victories that propelled both the boys and girls to the Elysium fields of the state Final Four.

The boys’ 86-54 win over Section 1 Greenburgh Academy at the Westchester Center provided the first quaff of the uplifting tonic. Troy Correa led the way with 31 points, while Mike Mills, Kenny Fisk and Josh Janik chimed in with 17, 16 and 10 respectively. Greenburgh’s players, who had snickered when the country hicks from somewhere upstate entered the gym, were quickly reminded that great basketball has more to do with heart and skill than geography. Next up was Section 11 Bridgehampton in the quarterfinals held at SUNY New Paltz on March 10. Bridgehampton was state champion from 1996-1998. One of those teams ousted a talented Narrowsburg squad led by then standout Harold Shaw in a regional clash. But that was then. Trailing by two at the half, Manor exploded behind the ethereal play of Correa to lash Bridgehampton 69-53 and to earn a trip to the Mecca of high school basketball, the Glens Falls Civic Center. On March 16 at 11:45 a.m., they will bring their 16-5 moxie to face Section 10 Madrid-Waddington (23-3) in the state semifinals. The winner will play either Section 5 Batavia Notre Dame or Section 3 Sackett’s Harbor for the state championship. Correa’s 40-point avalanche was fueled by Manor’s lightning speed transition game, which has thus far proven to be unstoppable. Correa had 16 points in the third quarter, which equaled Bridgehampton’s tally for the period. He’d go on to score 14 of Livingston Manor’s 18 points in that deciding third-quarter run. Years of reporting from the state championships with this writer’s “LIVE from Glens Falls” narratives have sought to bring a virtual experience to the legions of local fans who have never been to the storied arena. This week, many of them will learn what it’s like first hand.