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TURNER/CARROLL SEQUEL A REAL POSSIBILITY

Turner/Carroll was impressive in capturing the overall Class C state championship last Saturday in Glens Falls. The scary part is the Chargers might be even better next season.

With all five starters and two of the top three reserves returning, another state title, and perhaps a Manhattan Cup championship, is not out of the question.

"I'd rather not even think about that right now," coach Fajri Ansari said of a possible repeat. "I'm just going to enjoy this one and worry about next season when it gets here."

Ansari will no doubt do his best to keep expectations from getting blown too far out of proportion. Players leave, don't develop or get injured. Ansari has experienced all of those things over the years.

But this team shows signs that it might be different. The players play with a lot of desire and seem committed to getting better.

During their stunning postseason run, the Chargers' overcame their youth. When challenged, they played with the poise of veterans.

"It has been a long five months," said Ansari, whose Chargers posted back-to-back decisive wins over teams ranked No. 1 in the state's Class C poll the last two weeks.

"We had a lot of struggles, but I told the kids those difficulties make you stronger, and it did. I'm very proud of them and what they've accomplished."

Leonard Stokes, a 6-foot-5 junior guard, opened a lot of eyes with a dominant postseason, averaging 35 points in wins over Salesian in the Catholic state final and Sidney in the Federation title game. Guards Ka'Ron Barnes, Julius Page and Greg Wilson got valuable experience as sophomore starters, while 6-7 junior Quadir Habeeb made great strides in his first year of organized basketball. Junior guards Clyde Wofford and David Zelasko gave the team quality minutes off the bench.

"I think we should be better," said Stokes, the most valuable player in the Catholic and Federation tournaments. "We'll be a year older and we'll know what to expect going into the season."

The biggest obstacle Turner/Carroll might face is itself. Given what the way they mowed down the competition, the Chargers might let themselves believe it will be easier the second time around.

Stokes insists that won't happen.

"We know what it took for us to win a state championship and what it is going to take for us to keep it," he said. "The guys on this team are pretty level-headed, so we won't be over-confident next year.

"There won't be any pressure to repeat. As long as we work hard and play together, it's going to be fun defending the state championship."

Federation tidbits

Stokes, Barnes (14 points) and Habeeb (17 rebounds) made the Federation all-tournament team. Habeeb is the first ever to be honored without scoring a point. . . . Turner/Carroll's first Federation title came in 1988. The Nichols School holds the state record with four Class C crowns (1985, 86, 90, 95). Cardinal O'Hara (1994) and Traditional (1996) also won in Class C, while Bennett (1984) and LaSalle (1988) won in Class B. The since closed Trott Vocational won the Class C state and Federation title in 1987.

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