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Queens wins NYCAC title

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It was too soon, though, for John Sikiric. And as these Knights know, what John Sikiric says, goes.So the senior from Maspeth pulled his team into a huddle and demanded the partying cease until Washington sank his free throws. Washington did his part and moments later the Knights mobbed each other on the court after beating Philadelphia University 82-74 to win the NYCAC title Sunday at the C.W. Post in Brookville, L.I.Fourth-seeded Queens, which won the NYCAC in 2002 - Sikiric's freshman year - advanced to the Division II NCAA tournament for the third time in five years. The Knights are seeded eighth in the Northeast Region and will take on top-seeded host Bentley College (28-5) Saturday at 6 p.m. in Waltham, Mass.Sikiric, who was snubbed for NYCAC Player of the Year, was named tournament MVP. He scored 29 points, one more than Philly's Tayron Thomas, who earned Player of the Year honors.The Queens players pledged throughout the year to send Sikiric back to the Big Dance. And when that became a reality, there was no one happier than Sikiric. He sped to the bench and gave head coach Kyrk Peponakis a bear hug. He lifted Brett Wierzbicki about three feet off the ground and acknowledged the crowd, many of whom were chanting his name.But after the pictures were taken, the championship hats were handed out and the net was cut down, the Knights returned to the locker room and Sikiric again issued an edict."The first thing he said (in the locker room) was, 'we're not done, we have business to take care of," Peponakis said. "That's who he is. He's the most unselfish kid you're ever going to meet, he's a gamer, he's a winner and I'm so glad he's here."And in the first half, Sikiric was simply amazing.The Archbishop Molloy product buried his first six 3-point attempts and scored 22 points in a remarkably played first 20 minutes. Queens (22-8) led 45-44 at the break and the two teams for just five turnovers.With 8:45 left in the first half Sikiric missed his first shot, a 25-footer from the top of the key that bounced off the front rim."I thought that going in too," he said. "I figured everything was just dropping for me."Sikiric cooled down a bit in the second half, but he had plenty of help from his teammates. Washington had 19 points and 4 assists, Bradd Wierzbicki had 11 points off the bench and Patrice Thevenot, a transfer from Division I St. Francis College who averaged 3.3 points per game, had a huge 6 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench."Johnny didn't have to carry us," Peponakis said. "He's carried us most of the time but he got us to the point where we just needed to help him finish it and we did."Brian Tomko had 17 points, 15 in the first half, D.J. Fritz had 16 points and 8 assists and Graham Edwards added 8 points and 11 rebounds for the Rams. Edwards' putback with 10:23 left gave Philadelphia (21-9) its last lead of the game, 65-63.Washington slashed to the basket and gave Queens the lead for good, 76-74 with 4:09 left."This is my senior gift to Johnny because I didn't give him a gift on Senior Night," Washington said.Queens, which set a program record for wins in a season, is looking to its first NCAA tournament victory. In 2001, the Knights lost to UMass-Lowell and in 2002 Queens fell to Pace. In that game Sikiric had 28 points."I know that he can go play somewhere, not that I'm finished with him yet," Peponakis said of Sikiric. "But that kid can play, he's a player. He dominated that game. He was like a gunslinger boy."Queens College 58, New Haven 55. Sikiric had a game-high 19 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half - the second with John Sullivan draped all over him - to lead Queens past No. 8 New Haven (15-13) in the NYCAC semifinals Saturday at C.W. Post.Shaun Bertin, who was named to the NYCAC all-tournament team, had 11 points and after missing a free throw with 30 seconds left, Washington buried two free throws with 11.1 seconds remaining to seal it for the Knights.Sullivan, who was also named to the all-tournament team, had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Jamaal Brooks added 14 points for New Haven.Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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