HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - The Martin Luther King Jr. boys basketball team went through a two-hour practice session Wednesday with the dream of a state championship still alive.
The Hastings-based Tigers, who won the school's fifth Section 1 Class D small-school championship last Saturday at the County Center, will face either Bridgehampton or Coleman Catholic at 4:30 p.m. Friday at New Rochelle High School for the state regional final.
"We want to win a state championship," Tigers captain Jermaine Shaw said. "We know it will come down to defense, our premier focus. We have gotten close as a team. We have a (Section 1 title) because we worked hard."
Coach Scott Green went through a tough practice, trying to keep his players focused with six days between games.
"We don't know much about the team we may play," Green said. "But I told the kids it's about playing as a team and applying what they have learned in becoming champions. Win or lose, we have to play our game and limit mistakes."
Rajien Griffith, who led the Tigers with 25 points in the Section 1 title game victory, is in his first season with the team.
"Jermaine and I met, and we decided we wanted to win a championship," Griffith said. "He brought me to the team. We both said, 'Let's do this.' We are champions, but we aren't satisfied. We want a chance to win the states."
Dashawn Johnson, whose chosen sport is baseball, has bought into the Tigers basketball program.
"We can win if we work hard and work together," said Johnson, who had nine rebounds and strong defense in the title game. "I'm not really a basketball player, but I think we're winning because we play hard and want to win. I'd love to keep winning."
A win Friday would send the Tigers to Glens Falls for the state Class D Final Four with two games to earn another championship.
"It would be a great thing for the kids," Green said. "They have already accomplished a lot, so we're going to give it the best we can."