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Springfield Gardens shows Mase’s spirit in season-ending loss

By Joseph Staszewski

ALBANY – Springfield Gardens honored alum Anthony Mason to the end. There were numerous occasions for the Golden Eagles to roll over against a hot shooting Albany Academy team, but the club battled until it couldn’t anymore.

“He was a furious player who fought to the end and that’s what I told my guys,” Springfield Gardens coach Angelo Buono said. “We are going to play in memory of him.”

Springfield Gardens fell 60-51 to Albany Academy in the New York State Federation Class A boys’ basketball final last Friday at UAlbany. The team wore green T-shirts during warm ups with Mason’s name and number on them and sent a photo of it to his family before the game. Mason, who suffered a major heart attack, died Feb. 28.

Springfield Gardens’ defeat ends a memorable season for the Golden Eagles. It won its first PSAL city title since Mason led them to one in 1983. The accomplishment took away from the sting of loss in the Federation semifinals.

“We were upset, but not to the point where we were crying and holding our heads now,” junior guard Joel Boyce said. “At the end of the day we are still city champs. We came out. We have never been this far before. We fought hard until the last seconds of the game.”

Springfield Gardens (25-5) hung right with Albany Academy until midway through the third quarter, trailing by just two with 5:30 to play in the frame. The Cadets, who were hot from the three-point range in the first quarter, scored at will in the paint after the break. Albany Academy (17–3) went on a 14-0 run to grab a 44-28 lead with a minute to go in the quarter. Hameir Wright capped the spurt with a feed to Max Roemer for a hoop.

“Our help side defense was very weak, “ Buono said. “We weren’t making our rotations over and just kind of fell apart.”

Sophomore Wright, who has mid-major Division I scholarship offers, caused problem for the Golden Eagles all afternoon. He scored 24 points and his 6-foot-7 frame and athleticism forced Springfield Gardens to change its shots in the paint.

The Golden Eagles weathered Albany Academy’s outside shooting barrage early on. It made four first-quarter three-pointers and lead 14-6. Springfield Garden rallied back. Daniel Kissoon hit a three to start a 10-0 run. A Travis Raynor hoop put Springfield Gardens up 16-14 heading into the second quarter.

The Golden Eagles went up 22-21 on a Boyce layup late in the frame, but four straight points put Albany Academy for good at 25-22 at the half. Buono felt good about things despite senior guard Ian Howard on the bench in foul trouble, but the Cadets pulled away in the third. Springfield Gardens kept pushing to get back into game and was within eight with 1:01 to play.

“We are a gritty team,” Boyce said. “Even if thing aren’t going our way, we are still going to try our best to fight back, until the last second of the game.”

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