SOTA breaks century mark behind Clarke-Desouza’s 37, two key runs

Ethain Clarke-Desouza led SOTA with 37 points Friday night. (Photo: BILLY HEYEN)

By BILLY HEYEN

PENFIELD, N.Y. — With Ke’Vion Mitchell breaking up the left side of the floor in Friday’s third quarter, his School of the Arts teammate Ethain Clarke-Desouza flew down the right side and pointed toward the roof. Mitchell answered the lob request but threw it just a bit too high.

On a night when SOTA broke 100 points for the first time this decade (according to Maxpreps), Clarke-Desouza still found a way to knock the ball into the basket.

“I got enough athleticism and I can jump out of the gym, so it was kind of fun,” Clarke-Desouza said.

Clarke-Desouza led the Silverhawks with a career-high 37 points and 15 rebounds in SOTA’s 108-59 over C.G. Finney at Penfield High School on Friday night. Logan Hayes joined Clarke-Desouza with a big night of his own, adding a career-high 27, and the Silverhawks bounced back from a loss last season to the Falcons in the blowout win Friday. It sets up a matchup with Penfield on Saturday night in the final of Penfield’s Coaches vs. Cancer holiday tournament.

SOTA’s first order of business Friday was to contain Finney freshman Markus Robinson. The guard already had a 56-point game on his resume this season and can beat teams both inside and out. The Silverhawks just hoped to “contain him,” said head coach Albert Nash.

“You can’t stop him, because he’s a heck of a player,” Nash said. “Focus your defense around getting the ball stopped first and then hopefully try to deny him if he gives it up.”

Robinson made a lot of plays Friday, finishing with 43 points. But it was two SOTA runs that first put the Silverhawks in control and then turned Friday’s contest into a rout.

SOTA led by two points after the first quarter, but the Silverhawks jumped out to score the first 10 points of the second. Logan Hayes, in a new role this season as a sparkplug off the SOTA bench, contributed multiple 3-pointers to the run. Even as Finney finally got on the board, the Silverhawks kept coming, with a Hayes steal and behind-the-back pass to Mitchell providing a highlight.

At the halftime buzzer, Hayes knocked down another triple to send SOTA to the break up 19 points. By the time the Silverhawks came back out of halftime and scored the first 14 points of the third quarter, the game was out of hand.

“We had to play with the same intensity that we started the game with,” Nash said. “… We wanted to be consistent and maintain the same energy and focus.

As the Silverhawks pulled away in the second half, Clarke-Desouza didn’t stop attacking the glass. The 6-foot-1 junior focused on rebounding more than he normally does, he said, realizing that Finney didn’t have the size or athleticism to really stop him. 

Five times Friday, Clarke-Desouza scored directly off of an offensive rebound, and a sixth time he grabbed an offensive board, drew a foul and made a foul shot. 

“We wanted to make sure that we’re doing the same things from the start to the end,” Nash said of the continued push late into the game.

Just as the whole SOTA defensive gameplan started with Robinson, Clarke-Desouza realized that his aggressiveness on the glass could make all the difference. Multiple times, he pulled down rebounds with Robinson by his side and went up strong anyway. 

Robinson picked up two first-quarter fouls and had to be wary of foul trouble for a lot of the remainder of the game. That’s exactly what Clarke-Desouza wanted as he attacked the glass, again and again, looking for more points to reach the century mark, something he’d never seen SOTA reach.

“The only one who is athletic like me is Markus,” Clarke-Desouza said, “so get him in foul trouble and that’s ballgame, basically.”

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