By ROB JONAS

ROTTERDAM – Duncan Tallman was so focused on helping the Mohonasen boys basketball team win the Kirvin Cup title that he had no idea he was having the best night of his varsity career.

 

Tallman drained seven three-pointers on his way to a 43-point performance to lift the Mighty Warriors past Catskill 89-58 in Thursday night's Kirvin Cup championship game at Mohonasen.

 

When told how many points he finished with, Tallman was caught off guard.

 

“I had no idea. I didn't think I had that many points,” said the junior guard, who was named the tournament's most valuable player.

 

“That's a good sign,” said Mohonasen coach Josh Peck. “When they're counting (points), that's a bad sign.”

 

Tallman could count the number of points he scored the previous night against crosstown rival Schalmont. He had only six points in Mohonasen's 62-55 victory over the Sabres.

 

“I told Duncan before the game that sometimes the best thing that can happen is to have a game like that,” said Peck. “He was 1-for-10 from the floor.”

 

It took Tallman all of four minutes to erase that performance from his mind. He sank four three-pointers, including three in a row, to help Mohonasen (6-3) build a 23-15 lead after the first quarter.

 

“He had one of those nights that high school players dream of,” said Catskill coach Douglas Lampman.

 

Tallman went cold for the first part of the second quarter, but other Mohonasen players stepped up in his stead. Junior forward Jalani Abdul-Aziz and senior guard Gregory Van Epps drained key shots to extend the Mighty Warriors' lead to 34-25.

 

When Tallman got going again, though, there was nothing Catskill (6-2) could do. Tallman finished a fast break with a layup to give Mohonasen a double-digit advantage. A baseline jump shot and two three-pointers later, Tallman put the Mighty Warriors ahead 45-27.

 

Duncan Tallman Kirvin Cup MVP

 (Duncan Tallman Kirvin Cup MVP)

“That's what I love about this team,” said Peck. “Last night, Greg (Van Epps) got hot, Tonight, I think Catskill was looking for Greg, and Duncan got hot.”

 

Mohonasen – and specifically Tallman – kept rolling in the second half. The Mighty Warriors opened the third quarter on a 10-3 run to increase their lead to 25 points, with Tallman scoring six points during the spurt. Catskill used a three-point play from sophomore forward Devon Haye and a pair of technical free throws by junior guard Justice Brantley to briefly take some of the wind out of Mohonasen's sails, but the Cats were too far behind to make a serious run.

 

“We kept making them shoot,” said Tallman. “We knew they weren't a good shooting team, so we made them shoot.”

 

As the misses piled up for Catskill, so did the rebound opportunities for Mohonasen. Despite having a distinct height disadvantage near the basket – one exacerbated when junior forward Chase Monroe got into foul trouble – the Mighty Warriors came away with defensive board after defensive board, with senior forward Avery Deas (10 rebounds) leading the way.

 

“It's more about heart than height,” said Tallman. “We just got good body position and boxed out.”

 

“We knew we were out-sized, so I told them before the game that it was going to be about playing defense and getting rebounds,” said Peck.

 

Tallman sealed Mohonasen's first Kirvin Cup title since 2011 with one more scoring burst to start the fourth quarter. He began with a three-pointer from the top of the key and finished his personal 9-0 run with a reverse layup. He added one more layup later in the period before leaving the game with 4:18 left.

 

Abdul-Aziz contributed 15 points, and Deas added nine points to his 10 rebounds for Mohonasen. Deas was named to the Kirvin Cup all-tournament team.

 

Senior guard Willie Bartholomew scored Catskill's first seven points and finished with a team-high 15 points. Haye and Brantley each contributed 11 points for the Cats.

 

 

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