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Peekskill too much for St. Joe's Hot-shooting Red Devils win a foul-fest, 78-68

St. Joe's had its season end Friday night (whistle!) in the state Federation Class A semifinals (whistle!) at the Glens Falls Civic Center (whistle!).

The only thing as common as hearing referees whistle fouls (there were a total of 43 called) and watching players step up to the free-throw line (there were 66 free-throw attempts) was watching Peekskill shots swishing through the basket during its 78-68 win over St. Joe's. The Red Devils hit 24 of 49 shots from the floor, including a few that fended off a spirited Marauder comeback.

"They were a little better than us tonight -- their offense was tremendous and we didn't have an answer for it," said coach Mark Simon. "Not to say that the refereeing had anything to do with the decision, because it didn't. But it detracts from the game. It takes away from two good basketball teams going about what they do best."

Peekskill (27-1) plays Long Island's Lawrence Woodmere Academy, the state independent winner, for the Class A championship at 3:45 p.m. today.

Mookie Jones, the 6-foot-6 sophomore who was MVP of the public school tournament, had 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting while senior guard Tyrone Murphy had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Derek Dennis, a 6-6 senior, had 15 points, including 9 of 14 at the line.

In all, Peekskill was called for 20 fouls and hit 26 of 41 free throws. St. Joe's was called for 23 fouls and was 18 for 25 at the line -- most of those being shot by senior forward Devon Dawson (14 for 21).

"Getting our first five into foul trouble in the first half hurt us," said Dawson. "It kind of dropped our momentum."

St. Joe's (27-2), which was trying to win its first Federation title, had its win streak end at 26. Dawson had 20 points and 13 rebounds while fellow senior Naaman Roosevelt scored 13 points. Junior point guard Domonic Cook (eight points, six assists) was named to the all-tournament team.

Peekskill extended a 23-17 first quarter to 43-30 at halftime. Along with its 13-point deficit, Roosevelt and sixth man Matt Mihalich each had three fouls and starters John Greer and Mike Wopperer had two. That necessitated Simon going deeper into his bench than usual with junior Andrew Passage, junior Mike Battle (who also had two fouls in the first half), and sophomore Phil Scaffidi. Peekskill hit 14 of 19 free throws in the first half while St. Joe's made 12 of 17.

"It was just survival," said Simon. "It's whistle, whistle, whistle, and you're just trying to orchestrate a survival to halftime."

St. Joe's trailed by 16 in the third before closing it to 60-49 heading to the fourth, and was down 65-50 with 5:50 left when Passage helped lead a Marauder charge. The skinny 5-9 guard swished two three-pointers to cut the lead to 65-56 and force a Peekskill timeout with 4:54 to play.

Passage hit another three, and Roosevelt's fast-break finger roll off a Cook steal brought St. Joe's to within 69-63 with 1:42 to go, but Jones calmly swished a three-pointer to give the Red Devils a 72-63 lead with 1:28 to play. Despite a lane-driving dunk by Dawson and a three-point play by Cook after a flying layup, St. Joe's got no closer than six.

The officiating of the game was in stark contrast to the physical play that marked the public school finals, including Peekskill's 46-39 title win over Sweet Home.

"Last weekend, nobody called anything, this weekend it was like everything," said Peekskill coach Lou Panzanaro. "We're a deep team, so we were able to rotate a lot of people."

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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