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Sage men's basketball is dancing! Gators post 84-70 win to capture program's first Skyline title and earn an NCAA bid!

The Champion Gators!
The Champion Gators!



(Quotes provided by Brian Cady of Sporty 1240 AM Radio)

Albany, NY –Top seeded Sage's men's basketball team collected the program's first Skyline Conference Men's Basketball Championship Saturday afternoon in a packed and rowdy Kahl Gym. The Gators beat St. Joseph's College (LI), 84-70 to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Junior guard Andre Robinson (Fort Pierce, FL/Fort Pierce Westwood) was named Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament as he led the team with his 17 points and 12 rebounds with five assists and two steals.

Head Men's Basketball Coach Brian Barnes, who was given an ice cooler bath after the win, "You know what, it's worth it, I'll take it. I didn't expect it really until we got into the locker room, I thought it might happen down there. Wasn't expecting it out here on the court, but it's great for these guys to accomplish something like this."

When asked what this means for the men's basketball program at Sage, Barnes added, "We wanted this championship for Sage. It was an investment that they put in with the support and everything else, this was for them. The guys have understood that from the beginning, we had a chance to do something special. We really stuck together, so I couldn't be prouder of the guys and happier for the program. We are excited to represent Sage in the NCAA Tournament."

Making their first-ever appearance in the finals, the Gators (23-4) improved to 13-0 at home and will represent the Skyline when the field for the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship is announced at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, March 2. Sage brings an 11-game win streak into the NCAA tournament and went undefeated in the month of February.

For the Gators, sophomore forward Marcus Patterson (Bronx, NY/Mount Saint Michael Academy) scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half to aid in the Gators' win.

Sage jumped out to an early 10-2 lead at the 16:57 mark of the opening half on consecutive three-pointers by junior guard Jorrdan McCray (Orlando, FL/Wekiva).  The Gators extended their lead to 31-19 as junior forward Melvin Ford (Voorhees, NJ/Eatsern Regional) poured in four straight points.  However, the Golden Eagles (17-10) ended the half on an 8-2 run to close to within 33-27 at the intermission on a layup by senior guard Nick Gallina ( Lake Grove, NY/Sachem North) in the waning seconds of the half.

Patterson then sparked Sage in the second half as he scored seven straight points and finished the afternoon with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.   Robinson shot a blistering 12-of-14 from the foul line and added five assists en route to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Championship.  McCray added 15 points and Ford chipped in 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.   The Gators shot 50 percent from the field (24-of-48) and held a 45-30 rebounding edge on the afternoon.

Making its first appearance in the Skyline finals since 2011 and seeking its first league crown since 2009, St. Joseph's-L.I. was led by forward Sean McCarthy (Kings Park, NY/Kings Park), who poured in a game-high 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.  Sophomore Andy Laurent (Amityville, NY/Amityville) added 19 points, while forward Fernando Vazquez (Babylon, NY/Babylon) chipped in 15 points and three assists.   The Golden Eagles drained 13 three-pointers on the afternoon and added nine steals. 

Sage's senior forward Kai Deans (Miami, FL/Monsignor Pace), the Skyline Conference Player of the Year, was held to nine points with six rebounds. Deans now has 449 points on the season, a new standard for most points in a campaign for any Gator, while elevating his career number to 807 points, good enough for the No. 4 all-time leading scorer in program history.

Senior tri-captain Jacob Sopchak (Rhinebeck, NY/Rhinebeck) finished with just two points and added a blocked shot, and now has 115 career blocks as the Gators' all-time leading shot blocker. Senior tri-captain Troy Nwanna (Washington, DC/Mercersburg Academy) chipped in with two points with four rebounds and four assist in the contest as the Gators shot a blistering 61.9% from the floor in the second half.

Ford moved into the No. 3 spot on the team's all-time rebounding list after his efforts on Saturday as he now has 487 boards. He also has 659 points and ranks No. 6 all-time in scoring.

For head coach Brian Barnes, the Skyline Conference Men's Basketball Coach of the Year, he improves to 81-75 at the helm of the program.

Barnes talked about how important it was to have players that could step up when needed in the big game. "It was great to see that players like Andre and Marcus were able to respond when challenged. "We say to the team all the time that we are a team for a reason., We are 13 Gators strong and that was the difference today, we were deeper than them. And if somebody is having as bad night, it's up to the next guy. We're a 'next man up' program and it made me proud to see those guys respond today."

Senior captain, Kai Deans reflected on the title win, "It's all surreal to me. We worked hard all season and it's just great to see it all pan out. We do it for Sage and all our students and everyone that is involved, so I feel really proud." Deans added, "Having that pressure with teams liking to double-team me, having someone that can drive and take that pressure off like Jorrdan, who's a great shooter is great. (Andre) is a great shooter on the perimeter and has the ability to create for other people. And for Marcus, he's just gonna give you a lot of energy, do all the garbage work and get the second-chance points, so he was big today."

Deans continued, "We're ready for whoever is gonna be our opponent, Coach (Barnes) is going to have us well prepared, so we can't wait."

Robinson remarked about the game, "It was really big, because we talked about it so much in the locker room and a lot of us came in from different areas to win this thing. We were scrapping throughout the entire season just to accomplish this goal. It means so much now and we have bigger things to come. As we go forward into winning another championship, it starts all over now."

When asked about how he adjusted to stepping up when Deans was pressured, Robinson said, "As a point guard, I just gotta try to keep him (Kai) in the game and try to get him to do everything that he can to help us win. I tell Marcus Patterson all the time that he is gonna be the one to help us win the game. A lot of times, people tell us (him & Kai) to win the game, so I just tried to keep the focus and helped them get down the stretch."