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Empire State Games: NYC men win fourth straight gold medal

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Another year, another Empire State Games gold medal. For the New York City men’s open basketball team, winning the title is expected. Anything less would be considered a disappointment.

But a day before the gold medal game, the New York City team, featuring a bevy of Division I standouts, fell to Long Island, 84-82 on a buzzer-beating putback by Seth LeGrand. All of a sudden the expected was in question.

But St. John’s Red Storm stars Anthony Glover and Sharif Fordham, who were on the 2000 Empire State Games gold medal squad, squelched any doubts, as they led New York City to an 85-71 win Sunday in Hamilton, as the city celebrated its fourth straight gold medal.

Former Molloy standout and University of Richmond guard Reggie Brown converted a three-point play with 1:36 left in the first half to give New York City its largest lead of the game, 46-26.

Long Island opened the second half on a 25-8 run, including six points by St. John’s bound-guard Tristan Smith to cut City’s lead to 54-53. Smith’s backcourt mate, Joel Suarez from LeFrak City, then heated up, as the Hofstra sophomore guard nailed three straight shots, including one from downtown, to give Long Island its first lead of the game, 61-59, with 7:53 left.

But Suarez’s Pride teammate and former Christ the King standout Osei Millar, answered with a three-pointer of his own 19 seconds later to put City back ahead 62-61. It would be a lead New York City would not relinquish.

Glover led the way with 20 points, while Fordham chipped in with 16 and Millar added 11. LeGrand, who was the hero the night before, had 15, while Smith netted 14 and Suarez added 10 for Long Island, which won the silver medal.

In Long Island’s 84-82 win Saturday night, LeGrand led all scorers with 28 points. Glover again led the City with 19 points and Smith had nine points for Long Island.

Glover also scored a team-high 19 points in New York City’s 81-78 win over Hudson Valley in their opener last Thursday. Fordham scored 14 points, while Brown had 10. In their second game, a 106-69 romp of Adirondack, Fordham had 22 points, Rochdale Village native and Hofstra-bound Kenny Adeleke added 18 points, Millar and Glover had 14 and LeFrak City native and Long Island University standout JaJa Bey had 13.

After scoring 18 points in Long Island’s tournament opening 96-92 win over Adirondack, Suarez led all scorers with 22 points — including four three-pointers — in Long Island’s 94-89 loss to Western.

The New York City women’s basketball has also met with their share of success, as the undermanned squad defeated Hudson Valley, 81-63, Sunday in the bronze-medal game to win its third straight medal.

Queens native and former Delaware star Cindy Johnson led the way with 28 points, Rosalee Mason had 19 points and Natasha Green added 10 in the win.

In New York City’s 69-51 Empire State Games opening round win over Hudson Valley at Utica College, Nia Ryan led all scorers with 16 points, while Annie Delroy had 14 and Mason added 11.

Johnson, a former standout at August Martin, again provided the heroics in the City’s next game, draining the game-winning shot with one second left as New York City escaped with an 85-84 win over Central Friday. The Far Rockaway native scored a game-high 26 points, Ryan had 15 and Natasha Green and Elana Greene had 11 points each for City.

New York City had its hopes of returning to the gold medal game for a third straight year dashed as they fell to Adirondack, 86-73, in overtime Saturday. Mason led New York City with 23 points and Johnson added 19, but Adirondack outscored the City 15-2 in the extra session. Adirondak went on to defeat Western to win the zone’s second straight gold medal.

The scholastic boys basketball team defeated Adirondack, 80-76, Sunday to win the bronze, giving the squad their fifth medal in the last six years. Daniel Green, from Brooklyn, had 18 points to lead five players in double figure scoring. The team went 2-1 in the tournament. Western won the gold medal, defeating Central, 80-77.

The women’s scholastic team, featuring Flushing resident Mallory Williams, Nicole Iannotto from Francis Lewis and Donna Lohrey from The Mary Louis Academy, lost all three of its games. Central won the gold, its first since 1989, while Long Island picked up the silver and Hudson Valley won the bronze.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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