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CHSAA Coach of the Year: Sundiata Gaines

Sundiata Gaines nearly made history at Archbishop Molloy High School this year when playing Monsignor McClancy Feb. 3. The senior bound for the University of Georgia scored a career-high 52 points and was just four away from knotting former Stanners’ star Kenny Anderson for most points ever in a single school game.

But head coach Jack Curran pulled the plug on his standout.

“We had to get our subs in; the other team had their subs in. He can get the record against Rice or St. Raymond’s or something,” Curran said. “When he makes his perimeter shots he’s unguardable. But he missed a few (foul shots). He could have broken the record if he made his foul shots.”

Gaines never again got close to the record — set more than a decade ago — but his play this past season was enough to have him named league MVP and, of course, TimesLedger CHSAA Boys’ Player of the Year.

“He’s a born scorer,” said Queens-based basketball guru Tom Konchalski. “He scores like we breathe. He had a terrific season.”

Konchalski likened Gaines to the player’s uncle, Richie Chinkman, a former All-American at Seton Hall University.

“He’s so reminiscent of his uncle Richie Chinkman,” Konchalski said. “They were both bulls and they were both relentless going to the basket and almost unstoppable taking the ball to the basket.”

Gaines was a player to watch as a sophomore, when he all but carried the team down the stretch, succeeding inside. He got the team to the CHSAA semifinals last year and had the team poised to make the Final Four again before a last-second shot in the semifinals lifted Rice to the win.

The team might not have been the school’s strongest, but Gaines’ stats speak for themselves. He led the league in scoring, averaging 27.1 points per game and leading the league in games with 20 points or more with 20. His 705 total points also led the league.

“You’re not going to find a stronger 6-foot-2 guard in America,” Konchalski said. “He’ll post, he’ll rebound and he’ll get to the basket and finish around the basket. He doesn’t get his shot blocked inside.”

A Jamaica resident, Gaines was named the TimesLedger Athlete of the Week three times this past basketball season. Konchalski said Gaines needs to work on his perimeter shooting and free throw shooting, but that a promising college career seems almost a lock.

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