‘We finally finished’: Bishop Kearney holds off Fairport on Senior Night

Deiontray Dixon celebrates as the final buzzer sounds Tuesday night. (Photo: BILLY HEYEN)

By BILLY HEYEN

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — With less than a minute to play, Miles Rose dribbled left off two screens. They didn’t immediately free him, so he faced up, dribbling in his right hand. The Bishop Kearney guard crossed over, right-to-left, and drove before flipping the ball up off the glass with his left hand and in.

The Kings were in danger of collapsing on Senior Night. It was that bucket from a sophomore that saved them.

“He’s gonna be one of the best players out of Section V,” Kearney senior Miles Monchecourt said. “That kid’s really something special.”

Three free throws from seniors closed out a Senior Night win for the Kings (4-14), 66-65 over Fairport (9-9) in Ed Nietopski Gymnasium. Monchecourt led the way for Kearney with 28 points, including 23 in the first half. He was supplemented by 16 from Rose and 12 from another senior, Mike Gentile. The win snapped Kearney’s four-game skid, and with just one game remaining in the Kings’ regular season, it sets them up to go into sectionals on a high note.

“I’m happy we were able to pull out a Senior Day win, that was one of the objectives,” Kearney head coach Kevin Goode said. “The second objective really was we need to get a win, hopefully get two, get our second win on Saturday, and go with some wins into sectionals. Get the ball rolling for us. You really can’t count us out.”

Miles Monchecourt (left) and Mike Gentile (right) high-five after a second-quarter foul. (Photo: BILLY HEYEN)

Fairport scored the game’s opening bucket, but for the remainder of the first half, it was all Kearney. The first quarter belonged to Monchecourt, the 6-foot-7 senior committed to New York Tech.

Monchecourt stepped back from the right wing to drain a 3 to tally his first points. Then he stepped back on the left wing for 2, hit another right wing triple and stepped back from the left wing for 3 more. With 3:34 left in the first quarter, an Antwaan Williams pass out to the right corner led to another Monchecourt 3 and forced a Fairport timeout. Monchecourt had scored 14 points in less than five minutes.

“He realized that it was his last game here,” Goode said, “and we had somewhat of a good crowd that we haven’t had here in awhile. We just knew that once he hit that first one, he gets like that. He gets hot, and (we) keep feeding him.”

Monchecourt added nine more points in the second quarter, including a euro-step layup off a steal, but the second quarter was about Gentile. A shot from the foul line got him going, and then a banked 3-pointer from the top of the arc suggested good fortune to come. 

Gentile added a layup, a right wing 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper to score all 12 of his points in the second quarter.

“With Mike, he can light it up at any time, he just had to find his shot,” Goode said. “The ball wasn’t finding him in the first quarter. He pretty much got aggressive and started letting it go.”

Fairport adjusted its defense after Monchecourt’s hot start, going to a box-and-one at times with Jack Lindstrom marking Monchecourt. So even though the Kings went into the half with a 15-point lead, it was the Red Raiders who stormed out of the locker room.

Ryan Lucey scored nine of his 17 points in the third quarter, including a spinning lefty layup on a fastbreak. Max Molisani added a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull within five at the end of three, and Fairport scored the fourth quarter’s first five points to tie the game at 57.

The Red Raiders actually rattled off four more points to take their first lead since 2-0 at 61-57, forcing a Kearney timeout. Goode’s message in the huddle was about composure for a team that’s struggled to finish games all season.

“They were speeding us up and we were just falling accustomed to what they were having us do,” Monchecourt said. “We just had to get back in our groove. We just had to relax and play our own ball.”

Kearney scored the next four points out of the timeout, and it was a Rose dunk, his third of the night, that tied it up at 61.

After that slam, the Kings forced a shot clock violation, and after Gentile missed a floater, Kearney caused another Fairport miss and grabbed the rebound. That set Rose up for his go-ahead basket.

Fairport split a pair at the line to pull within one, but then Monchecourt nailed one free throw. The Red Raiders drove to tie but Rose’s right hand jarred the ball free, and it fell to Deiontray Dixon, who was fouled. Dixon was the only Kings senior yet to score on the night, but up two, he drained both free throws to ice the game.

“It definitely gives us a boost going into sectionals, and hopefully we can win our next game as well,” Gentile said. “Definitely gives us a boost.”

Outside the Kearney locker room postgame, Goode reflected a bit on the season that’s unfolded as the Kings rushed to the cafeteria to grab food in celebration of Senior Night. Kearney has had stretches all season where Monchecourt and Rose have shown the Kings could be a tough out in the postseason, but Kearney has rarely finished the job.

On Jan. 10 against SOTA, the Kings cut a 20-point second-half deficit to five on the back of Rose drives to the basket but had dug too big a hole. It was the reverse scenario Tuesday, but the narrative remained: A team with three wins entering the night hasn’t closed many games out.

At least for one night, that changed. Kearney will still be a bottom-two seed heading into Class AA sectionals, but the Kings will have seen one recipe for winning a close game, and it gives Goode hope of a postseason surprise.

“The funny thing is, we’ve played like that many times this year and did not finish,” Goode said. “The difference today is we finally finished. The kids get a taste of us finishing, and hopefully that carries on to the next game.”

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