Frank Dinnocenzio and Marcus Henderson were on the floor when Will Bouton’s half-court heave landed to score and eliminated Mount Vernon from the regional postseason 10 years ago.
Awe and pandemonium engulfed that moment as the Goldbacks stopped a familiar foe known to dominate and menace many Section 9 opponents in the postseason.
The Goldbacks would continue to enjoy that Hail Mary moment into the state tournament before winning the Class AA state title in 2009 with Dinnocenzio running along the sideline pushing his team as coach, and Henderson, a pugnacious point guard, directing and trying to confuse defenses away from his offensive plans.
Thursday in Middletown during the Section 9, Class AA semis, Dinnocenzio, as coach, and Henderson, nearby assisting him, were hit by an instant shock wave -opposite of the awe and pandemonium that would sweep them to glory a decade ago.
It was the third meeting this season between the Middies and Goldbacks, their two regular season meetings decided by a total of two points in favor of Middletown, and the Goldbacks were poised to prove again how hard it is to beat the same team three times in row.
Zech Barnes scored in the closing seconds to give Newburgh an 81-80 lead. But during Middletown’s final possession, Joel Marrero turned a rebound into a put-back at the buzzer, and Newburgh was eliminated 82-81.
“We just couldn’t make a stop,” said Dinnocenzio, as his team finished the season 11-9 “We thought we had (Marrero) covered.”
Caleb Simmons led the Goldbacks with 26 points, while going 8/9 from the foul line. Barnes had 24 points with four threes, and Unique Hicks also landed a quartet of threes with his 16 points.
Middletown led 17-15 after first quarter, and Newburgh held a single points advantage at the end of the first half, 38-37, and the third quarter, 58-57.
“The season had its up and downs. We could have easily been 16-4 or 16-5. We lost 6 games by a total of 19 points,” said Dinnocenzio. “We’re right there.”