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The Butler Did It: Queens shapes March Madness

McKillop, who was born in South Ozone Park, has Davidson, a tiny liberal arts college near Charlotte, N.C., in the Sweet 16 after upsetting Gonzaga and second-seeded Georgetown in the opening rounds of the tournament in Raleigh, N.C. "Beating Georgetown which is one of the legendary programs - and of course being a New York guy and knowing the battles between St. John's and Georgetown back in the late '80s - it means a lot to me and I think it means a lot to our players," McKillop said Sunday. "We watched tape on Georgetown and saw how good they were and we beat a really, really good team today."McKillop, a former Hofstra and Chaminade HS standout and Holy Trinity coach, will next see his team face Wisconsin Friday at 7:10 p.m. "I'm a dreamer and I've been a dreamer my whole life," McKillop said. "And for me to not think that we could get to this moment would be selling myself and the people who are behind me short."McKillop is preparing right now to find a way to stop Trevon Hughes, who also is a Queens native. Hughes grew up in Rosedale before moving to Wisconsin prior to enrolling in high school. He's a big reason why the Badgers, the No. 3-seed in the Midwest Region, defeated Cal-State Fullerton and Kansas State. Since he didn't play high-school ball in New York and Wisconsin is known more for its football than hoops, Hughes and his teammates have had little fanfare coming into the tournament. But after scoring 25 points against Kansas State Saturday to help lead the Badgers to the regional semifinals, recognition is finally coming his way."I like playing under the radar, so, you know, we don't have to get talked about," Hughes said. "We know what we've got in the locker room and it put a chip on our shoulder, made us go out and play even harder."Hughes advanced, but a couple of other Queens natives did not. Former Molloy standout Sundiata Gaines, who was instrumental in Georgia's miraculous run to the SEC title, ended his collegiate career last Thursday when the Bulldogs lost to Xavier. And a day later, Daon Merritt, a Jamaica native who played his high-school ball at St. Raymond's, nearly led South Alabama to an upset of Butler. The team, not the columnist. As for Butler the columnist, I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of these games with TimesLedger Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi at First Edition in Bayside. Hey, it was hard work keeping up with all those Queens players and coaches!There were so many games, so many wings. But the consensus from all those who found a few hours of free time to duck in and watch, including Queens College coach Kyrk Peponakis, former St. Francis Prep standouts Bryan Geffen and Mike Marin, as well as budding coach Steve Scharf, is that there is nothing like the NCAA tournament. Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at news@TimesLedger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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