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Dane Williamson never got a chance to play a game in high school in front of his father. The Gorton senior was only in seventh grade when his father passed away, and a day never goes by without Williamson thinking of him.
“Every time I’m in a tight position, I think of my father,” Williamson said.
In the Yonkers City Tournament championship on Saturday afternoon at Saunders, Williamson honored his father in the best way possible, posting an MVP performance to boost the Wolves to a 65-52 win over Riverside. Williamson was spectacular in the win, notching 31 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists, and was emotional after taking home the championship.
“Before the game, I don’t know why, but my father came across my mind; may he rest in peace,” Williamson said. “I know he’s looking down on me. My elementary school coach was here (today) and I told him how much that meant to me that he was there (during that time). When my father died, he would drive me up to Connecticut to see him on life support. It meant so much and I’m so happy that he was here today. This is everything to me.”
Williamson had 19 points in the first half to push Gorton (8-4) out to a 41-18 lead at the break. Riverside put the pressure on early, but Williamson sliced-and-diced his way through the defense for easy baskets and quick assists.
“Dane is a winner,” said Gorton coach Tom Brown. “He wants to come to every practice and every game and win, no matter what the situation is or what we’re doing. He works very hard. But this is a huge win for us as a team. The kids will take this and brag about it all summer. I couldn’t be happier for them.”
Rashawn McKay played Robin to Williamson’s Batman, posting 13 points, five steals, four rebounds and four assists. Williamson and McKay single-handedly kept Gorton alive late in the game as they hit big baskets and free throws down the stretch after Riverside cut the lead to nine points with less than four minutes remaining.
“I fueled off of Dane’s intensity as soon as we stepped on the court,” McKay said. “I saw he was ready to play and his heart was in it. Once his heart was in it, my heart was in it… This was a big win for us. It was physical and emotional, but it was a huge win. I’m very proud of my teammates; we couldn’t have done it without them. We played well and we played hard. It’s an emotional win for us.”
Kevin Harris had eight points and five rebounds, Romaine Anderson had six points and nine rebounds and Kwun Mel Fincher had five points and two steals.
Riverside had beaten Gorton 75-56 earlier in the year, but the Rams struggled to score early in the game. By the time Riverside began to make their run, the Rams were too far behind for a full-fledged comeback.
“Gorton played a great game,” said Riverside coach Eric Cruz. “They broke their butts from the opening whistle. They got after it today. I’m not sure what the difference was between this game and our first one, but I just have to tip my hat to their players. We got back into our system late in the game, but it was too late to make a dent in their lead. We need a big bounce back right now. This was pretty deflating for us.”
Ian Parker played well in the loss, posting 19 points, 18 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while Khalif Mason had 10 points, four rebounds and two steals. David Morris had seven points and 11 rebounds and Eddie Jackson had seven points.
Gorton leaves the Yonkers City Tournament with a lot of confidence and Brown hopes the team can continue their momentum heading into the upcoming playoffs.
“Dane really put this team on his back tonight as a leader and I hope he can continue that for the rest of the season,” Brown said. “I think we can be a very dangerous team come sectionals time when we’re playing like we played tonight.”
Email Jordan Griffith at Jgriffit@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_JGriffith