Houstons, Clintons and friends await hoops showdown
The local collegiate basketball season resumes early in the new year with a showdown of sorts on tap in the eighth James Clancy Memorial Basketball Tournament, hosted by Dominican College on January 3-4.
Coach Baxter Court at the Hennessy Center in Orangeburg is surely to be packed at 6 p.m. on January 4 when the once-beaten home-based Chargers (8-1) challenge equally once-beaten Southern Connecticut State University (9-1).
A large contingent of Pearl River basketball aficionados are expected to be drawn to the tournament, as Joe Clinton the Elder is the veteran coach at Dominican and whose son, Joey, is a key sophomore point guard for the Chargers.
The Owls of Southern Connecticut State also reflect a decided Pearl River color, with junior Luke Houston – a former scholastic teammate of Clinton’s – playing a key role at the guard position.
Already guaranteeing her attendance at the fray is Jean Houston of Pearl River, who is young Joe’s grandmother and whose family pedigree assures that she knows a thing or two about the game.
Jean’s husband, Jerry Sr., was the last captain at St. John’s University under the legendary Hall of Fame coach Joe Lapchick, and is a member of the Basketball Old Timers of American Hall of Fame.
Jean’s eldest son Kevin, a1982 alum of Pearl River HS, was a standout on the court at West Point. In his senior season, Kevin led the nation in scoring average (32.9 points per game) and free-throw percentage (92). One might think that is a rare double to accomplish and you’d be right, as the six-foot Kevin is the only player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in both categories.
The link to basketball doesn’t stop there, either, as Jean’s youngest son Jerry is head coach for the Pirates, and had the pleasure of mentoring both young Joe Clinton and Luke when they were teammates.
“So,” said Grandma Jean, “I have no choice but to be a fan. I’ll be there, sure. We make as many games as we can; we go up to Connecticut (New Haven) to see him play, but not games in New Hampshire …”
Asked to evaluate her grandson Jean sounded like a big-time scout, noting, “He’s such a complete player, so good … not big, like his dad, who they said was too small and not strong enough coming out of high school, and the rest is history. Luke’s a smart player too – rebounds, scores, assists.”
Coach Houston, now in his 18th season at the helm, had this to say about Luke following a victory in the Section 1 tournament: “He has so much heart and plays so hard. I have so much respect for how he goes about playing and what he does to get himself ready to play.”
The coach, who had the benefit of his nephew and young Clinton playing in the same backcourt, is looking forward to what looms as the marquee tournament game.
“It’ll be really nice to see Pearl River so well-represented,” noted Coach Houston. “It should be a nice night. I’ll be rooting individually for each to do well. I know Coach Clinton very well, and have to root for my nephew as well.”
The coach said he was fortunate to have two such astute players under him.
“They both come from basketball families, and you can really recognize their knowledge of the game,” he said. “It’s one of the luxuries to have players who are sons of coaches. We were fortunate to have two guys in the backcourt handling the ball. They see the game differently than most other players – use their minds as much as abilities. As I said, it should be nice night.”
For the Owls, Luke is second on the team in rebounds with 6.5 per game, second only to the 6-3 swingman Greg Langston’s 7.4; his 27 steals are more than double the next-best on the team, his 3.6 assists per game rank second, and he is also averaging 7.9 points.
Clinton, listed at 6-1, handily leads the Chargers with 7.1 assists per game and also leads in steals with a 1.8 average, while averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.
James Clancy Memorial Tournament Schedule:
January 3 – Post vs. Southern Connecticut State, 5:30 p.m.; Bentley vs. Dominican, 7:30 p.m.
January 4 – Post vs. Bentley, 4 p.m.; Southern Connecticut State vs. Dominican, 6 p.m.
Women’s volleyball standout Dominique Bucci was selected to the all-Mid Hudson Conference first team, highlighting several honorees at Rockland Community College for the fall season. Bucci, an alumna of North Rockland HS, also earned all-Region XV recognition.
Makenna Clavell, a graduate of Suffern HS, was named to the second team for Coach Erik Ellingsen.
In men’s soccer, Martin Williams, a product of Wingate HS, was named to the all-Region first team while Suffern HS graduate Christian Diaz was named to the second team.
Sean Diffley, out of Clarkstown South HS, and Tappan Zee alum Michael Trinkoff were also named to the all-Mid Hudson Conference second team in Coach Loren Green’s 31st season at the helm.
The Pace University Baseball Hot Stove Dinner is scheduled January 25 at 3:30 p.m. at Aleo Restaurant in Manhattan.
The Setters, including freshman outfielder John Kukura of New City, a Clarkstown South alum, are scheduled to open the season at Bloomfield (N.J.) College on March 1-2. The first home games at Peter X Finnerty field in Pleasantville are set for March 8 with a twinbill against Merrimack College at anoon.
The Hot Stove event will feature cocktail hour, dinner, recognition of the senior class, a silent auction, guest speakers and appearances by current and former Major Leaguers and personnel.
For registration and information contact Zach Dayton, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-773-3271.
Another team getting ready resides at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, with the Mavericks to open the regular season with home games against Franklin Pierce University on March 2, and a doubleheader against Lincoln University on March 5. Head coach Bob Greiner will take his squad to Fort Pierce, Fla., to play 11 games in nine days. The Mercy roster includes sophomore right-hand pitcher Bryan Greig of New City, and junior outfielder Brendan Siegriest of Nanuet.
QUICK HITTERS: Jackie Gamboli of Stony Point, a senior on the track and field team at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, placed fifth in the 800-meter run and ran eighth in the mile at the Boston University Season Opener. The Red Foxes return to action on January 10 in the NYC Gotham Cup at the New Balance Track & Field Center in upper Manhattan. The first event is scheduled at noon. … The SUNY Potsdam men’s basketball team is back in action on January 7 when the Bears return to the home confines of Jerry Welsh Gymnasium to play Manhattanville College at 7 p.m. Chris Nardone of Stony Point, a graduate of North Rockland HS, has played eight games for the Valiants, averaging five points with 12 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. Junior guard Greg Torchon of Spring Valley, a captain at Potsdam, has missed six games with a stress fracture. … Freshman Alexandra Brooks of Stony Point is a freestyle specialist on the swim team at SUNY Potsdam, which resumes competition on January 18 against St. Lawrence University in Canton. The first event is set at 1 p.m. … Junior Lisa Oakes of Suffern is a member of the gymnastics team at the University of Bridgeport. Oakes, a product of Galaxy Gymnastics in Orangeburg, competes in beam and floor exercise for the Purple Knights, who visit the University of Arkansas on January 10, and then meet Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Conn., on January 11 for a match at 1 p.m. … Paul Fields of New City and the SUNY Cortland wrestling team, coming off a 2-2 showing against ranked opponents at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas, return to action January 10-11 at the Budd Whitehill Duals, hosted by Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa. Lycoming will also host the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championships on January 18. Fields, an alum of Clarkstown North HS, lost three decisions at 125 pounds in Las Vegas to fall to 6-11 on the season. … Jillian Hudson of Sparkill said she is prepared for a special senior season on the gymnastics team at the University of New Hampshire. The Wildcats meet Rutgers University on January 11 at Livingston Gym in Piscataway, N.J., at 1 p.m. … St. Thomas Aquinas College senior George Erazo of North Babylon was named East Coast Conference (ECC) preseason athlete of the year in track and field, and the Spartans were also tabbed as the preseason favorite following a vote by league coaches. STAC, which shared the 2013 ECC men’s outdoor championship with Queens College, return to competition on January 4 at the Tigers Open at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, Mass. … Junior forward Alushula Odongo of Suffern scored a team-high 11 points, but the St. Thomas Aquinas College men’s basketball team, without injured top scorer Omar Kellman, fell 76-65 to East Coast Conference rival Dowling College at Aquinas Hall in Sparkill. The Spartans return to action for three straight ECC home contests, starting on January 4 at 3 p.m. against Daeman College. The respective women’s teams meet at 1 p.m.