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Hastings' M.L. King Captures State Regional Basketball Title

Rajien Griffen is mobbed by his Martin Luther King teammates after hitting the game-winning shot for the Hastings-based school.
Rajien Griffen is mobbed by his Martin Luther King teammates after hitting the game-winning shot for the Hastings-based school. Video Credit: Danny LoPriore

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - Rajien Griffin hit a three-pointer with under a second left in the game Friday to give Martin Luther King High of Hastings the state Southeast Regional boys basketball title with a thrilling 44-42 victory over Bridgehampton at New Rochelle High School.

Griffin, who led all scorers with 20 points, had missed a three-pointer with five seconds remaining. But teammate Dashawn Johnson fought the get the ball back and tapped it to Griffin, who nailed his second try at the win.

"I didn't know what to think when the first one missed," Griffin said. "I just kept going. God was with us. I knew it might go in, and it did, just in time."

The shot fell through the net with four-tenths of a second remaining, and Bridgehamption threw the ball out of bounds without getting off a shot. MLK ran out the final split-second, and the Tigers fans erupted onto the court.

The resilient Tigers advance to next week's New York State Public Schools Class D Final Four in upstate Glens Falls.

"This is special for the school; the whole campus will be buzzing all week," Tigers coach Scott Green said. "I'm proud of the way the guys hung in despite all the struggles and giving up the lead late in the game. They showed a lot of heart."

MLK led 10-6 after one quarter and 21-15. Team captain Jermaine Shaw and Johnson combined for 16 rebounds in the first half and 26 in the game.

"We missed some shots we should make and that kept the game close," said Shaw, who fouled out with four minutes left in the game. "But we played good defense. This win is very big for us. I'm so happy for the team and everyone at the school."

Johnson, whose perseverance kept the ball alive for Griffin's game winner, was quiet after the game.

"We just kept fighting on rebounds and defense is pour primary thing," the big forward said. "We played hard all the way, all the way through."

Justin Gales, who replaced Shaw after he fouled out, got six rebounds and scored a big basket to give the Tigers a 41-40 lead late in the game.

Johnson finished with eight points and 13 rebounds. Peter Hargrove had seven points. Shaw had seven points and 15 rebounds. Chris Sanchez had two points for the Tigers.

"I was out there to do my best," Gales said. "This is big, very big for us."

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