MARC MY WORDS: Houston, he has no problem — only a retired jersey

Wanamaker Mile Set to highlight 108th Millrose Games

BY MARC MATURO

Kevin Houston, the first-year junior varsity boys basketball coach at his alma mater, Pearl River High School, recently reached another milestone despite putting away his gear many years ago.

Overlooked by almost all colleges following a stellar four-year career for the Pirates in high school, and perhaps under-valued even by Army, which was the only school to show any interest, the 5-foot-11 guard proved to be an over-achiever for the Black Knights and recently had his jersey No. 11 retired in an historic ceremony inside Christl Arena at West Point.

An Army hall-of-famer and 1987 alum, Houston was joined by Mike Silliman (USMA ’66) and Gary Winton (USMA ’78) during a halftime ceremony of the men’s basketball game against Loyola on Jan. 31 (Army bowed, 77-71). Their jerseys were the first in men’s basketball to be lofted to the rafters at Christl Arena.        Houston, who graduated with an Academy-record 2,325 points, was the most prolific scorer in Army men’s basketball history after spending a year at the United States Military Preparatory School in New Jersey following his career at Pearl River HS.

Houston led the nation in scoring as a senior, averaging 32.9 points per game during the 1986-87 campaign. Following his outstanding senior year, Houston was named an honorable mention all-American by the Associated Press (for the second straight season) and United Press International, while also claiming third-team all-American plaudits from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Houston also became the first Army player to receive the Haggerty Award as the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association’s player of the year.

During his collegiate career, Houston was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rookie of the year in 1984, and its player of the year in 1987, and a three-time all-MAAC honoree. Houston appeared in 113 games for the Cadets, which is tied for the most games played by an Army player. His 53 points against Fordham on Feb. 28, 1987, remain the most scored by a Black Knight.

MILLROSE GAMES: Eight-time champion Bernard “Kip” Lagat of Tucson, Ariz., the king of the NYRR Wanamaker Mile, and Bronxville HS alumna Mary Cain, 18, now of Portland, Ore., headline the 108th Millrose Games on February 14 at the 168th Street Armory. Lagat will chase his ninth event victory and the masters indoor world record of 3:58.15 against defending champion Will Leer of Marina Del Rey, Calif., and 2012 champion and Long Island native Matthew Centrowitz of Portland, Ore. Lagat, 40, a four-time Olympian, holds six individual American records—three indoor (1,500 meters, 2,000 meters, 3,000 meters) and three outdoor (1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, and 5,000 meters); he set the 2,000-meter record at last year’s Millrose Games. Lagat will be targeting the masters indoor world record of 3:58.15, held by Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan of Rye, the previous record-holder for the most NYRR Wanamaker Mile titles, with seven; Lagat took ownership of the record with his eighth win in 2010. In addition to Leer and Centrowitz, Lagat will also face 2008 Olympic 1,500-meter silver medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.; 2012 Olympic 1500-meter silver medalist Leo Manzano of Austin, Texas; 3,000-meter steeplechase American record-holder Evan Jager, of Portland, Ore.; and the University of Oregon’s five-time NCAA champion Edward Cheserek of Kenya, who lives in Newark, NJ. “I see Mr. Eamonn Coghlan as one of the all-time greats in track and field, so I don’t think about breaking his records,” Lagat was quoted as saying. “He made the records and broke the boundaries for people like myself to follow. Age is only a number, and he made us all believe it. I’m still listening and learning.” Tickets to attend the Millrose Games, scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Armory (216 Fort Washington Avenue), can be purchased at www.nyrrmillrosegames.org.

MAGER WORKS HIS MAGIC: Clarkstown South HS graduate Zach Mager of New City continues to pace the Oneonta State men’s basketball team, averaging 19 points per game. Zach, a senior guard who is joined on the team by sophomore guard Tyler Mager, also a Clarkstown South HS alum, is averaging 1.3 assists, and has added 12 steals on the season. Oneonta is scheduled to host Plattsburgh State on Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m., and stays home on Feb. 7 to meet Potsdam at 2 p.m. Guard Greg Torchon of Spring Valley is a senior team captain on the Potsdam team.

QUICK HITTERS: Clarkstown South HS alumna Allison Haugh of New City is having a solid season on the women’s basketball team at Purchase College. The Panthers are struggling at 3-14, but Haugh easily leads the team with 55 steals and ranks second in two categories with 13.6 points and three assists per game. Purchase was to travel to Danbury, Conn., on Feb 5 to meet Western Connecticut State University and returns home for back-to-back games on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9 against Mount Saint Vincent and Brooklyn, respectively. … Senior guard Iyoha Agho of New City had 11 points and three rebounds and junior guard Hakeem Harris of Bergenfield, N.J. scored a career-high 28 points as the New York University men’s basketball team defeated Emory University, 96-92, at the Coles Sports Center in Manhattan.… Following in the footsteps of her father and brother, Brianna Yee of Blauvelt is attending New York University, where the Tappan Zee alumna is a freshman member specializing in jumps on the track and field team. The Violets are competing at the NYC Metropolitan Championships on Feb. 6 at the 168th Street Armory.… Clarkstown North HS alum Paul Fields of New City posted a decision victory at 133 pounds as the nationally 28th-ranked Cortland wrestling team met Sullivan Community College in a series of exhibition matches. The Red Dragons will send competitors to the Messiah Open in Mechanicsville, Pa., on Feb. 7, and then host Oswego on Feb. 8 at 1 p.m.… North Rockland HS alumna Stephanie Frank averaged 169 and finished seventh in all-events as the Westchester Community College women’s bowling team finished fourth at the Westchester Classic at Spins Holiday Bowl in Wappingers Falls. … In its final tune-up for the SUNYAC Championships, the New Paltz men’s swimming team dropped a 152-101 decision to visiting Geneseo. The Hawks’ 200-freestyle relay team led the field behind Will Koenig of Highland, Calif., Caleb Treadwell of Cortland, North Rockland HS alum Brandon Finn of Tomkins Cove, and Ethan Cooke of Middletown, Conn. The quartet meshed in 1:29.20.… Michael Pelham of Spring Valley had 13 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots as the Purchase College men’s basketball team snapped a mini two-game slide by defeating visiting St. Joseph’s College-LI, 90-75. The Panthers leveled their record to 5-5 in the Skyline Conference, and stayed alive in the playoff hunt with a solid win against the league’s third-ranked team. Purchase was to visit Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5, and then returns home for back-to-back contests against Farmingdale State and SUNY at Old Westbury on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9, respectively.… St. Thomas Aquinas College track standout Winslow Dorsainvil of Monsey finished ninth in a nationwide field of 81 athletes in the 60 with a time of 6.78 at the Armory Track Invitational.  For his performance, the Spring Valley HS graduate was named East Coast Conference track and field athlete of the week.