Campus Magnet coach notches 700th victory

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Like he has for most of his career, Charles Granby was more concerned about others on a day that was supposed to be all about him.

The legendary Campus Magnet basketball coach spent the majority of pregame warm-ups worried about getting spectators into the game, because of a restrictive policy at Forest Hills, than his possible milestone win.

“I think it’s a front,” senior forward Samuel Durodola said. “He acts like he doesn’t care about it, but I know he does. Before the game he was worried about the spectators coming in, parents coming to watch the game, when he is supposed to be worried about the 700 wins.”

The fans were eventually allowed into the game. State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, whose district includes Campus Magnet, planned on watching the contest and called a high-ranking city Department of Education official from Forest Hills lobby to complain. The same thing happened at Campus Magnet early this week. She was one of many special guests for Granby. His daughter Robyn Granby-Poole invited his brother, his nephew and his great-niece to his surprise.

“When they walked in I said, ‘This is wow,’” Granby said.

They got to watch Campus Magnet fend off a game Forest Hills team 67-59 in a PSAL Queens AA boys’ basketball game last Thursday. The win pushed the 77-year-old Granby’s all-time record to 700-198 in his 43rd year on the bench. He is the PSAL’s all-time leader in wins and is third in the state behind former East Hampton Coach Ed Petrie (754). His daughter, flashing a sign reading 700, gave her father a big hug after the game.

“As far as basketball is concerned, it ranks right up there with the city title,” said Granby, dressed in a green running suit.

The longtime mentor has still found a way to connect with players. He’s always stressed the importance of going to college and even has a famous “ugly life” speech to illustrate to the kids what would happen if they don’t. Durodola didn’t know much about Granby when he moved from Brooklyn to Queens and attended Campus Magnet (8-2). Now, he said, he’s greatly influenced his life.

“He knows what we are going through,” he said. “He knows how we feel about certain things. He helps us. He knows the feeling about being young. He still wants to be a teenager. Him having a teenage state of mind helps us out a lot.”

The energized crowd at Forest Hills gave the ultra-athletic Durdola all the motivation he needed. He dominated the glass in the fourth quarter and scored 10 of his 17 points in the frame, including a putback with 3:37 remaining to put his team up 61-55. Tarik Raynor scored 15 points and Greguan Carter added 13.

“I was fortunate to be in a situation where I had players and knew a little something about the game,” Granby said.

One of those is New York City legend Greg “Boo” Harvey, who is now Granby’s assistant. The Bulldogs lost just seven games during his four seasons there and are off to a 5-1 start in league play this year, including a home win against rival Cardozo.

Raynor and Nohan Vickers shot Campus Magnet back in a frantic-paced game that Forest Hills (3-3) led by nine in the first quarter and trailed by just two at the half. Shamoy Allen had 19 points for the Rangers and Arif Mehmetaj scored 16. Benjamin Batah added 10.

“He is a great coach, a legend,” Harvey said. “You can’t do it no better. He’s still got a little left in the tank.”

Granby isn’t sure how much longer he will coach. He started in 1969 when the school was named Andrew Jackson, won a city title in 1985 and has made 40 playoff appearances, including four trips to the final. Granby didn’t miss a game while battling kidney cancer in 1976 and prostate cancer in 1993.

Granby-Poole, who often calls her father “Coach” and was given the title of “Coordinator of Coach’s Affairs,” said his faith, his love of the game and his family’s support keeps him going.

“I could leave tomorrow or I could leave in two years,” the coach said. “I do not know.”

What he was certain about was how he would celebrate his milestone.

“I’m going to go home and take me a hot bath, get something to eat, say my prayers and thank God I’m still alive,” Granby said.

Updated 3:03 am, December 22, 2011
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