Mount crushes Ford in playoff tune-up

It was supposed to be a matchup between two of the top CHSAA Class A teams, a possible intersectional semifinal preview. And that’s what made last Friday afternoon non-league game important. It’s why the Mount St. Michael players arrived in the gym early on a day off from school.

“We got here early, got a good sweat going, they’re preparing and getting focused,” Mount coach Tom Fraher said. “That’s all part of a good playoff mentality.”

The Ford players? They never even crossed the Whitestone Bridge.

“We decided to stay back in Brooklyn today, mentally and physically,” Ford coach John Infortunio said. “It started with the tip, it was a bad possession off the tip and it continued through the entire 32 minutes. There were absolutely no bright spots in this whatsoever.”

What followed was a stunning blowout as Mount scored the first eight points of the game and never looked back, beating Bishop Ford, 74-47, in The Bronx.

“We prepared, worked hard during the warm-ups,” Mount junior swingman Peter Aguilar said. “They came in lackadaisical and we came out ready to play and we just got the better of them. I know if we see them again they’ll be ready to play.”

Aguilar scored a game-high 28 points and at one point looked like he’d outscore the Falcons by himself. Senior forward Gary Acquah, playing in his final home game, added 20 points and sophomore point guard Malik Gill had 10 for the Mountaineers, who fired on all cylinders.

It was an impressive and thorough beatdown, surely one that got the attention of coaches from Iona Prep, Stepinac and St. Edmunds, who were all in the gym to scout the game.

“Coach said they came in with a nine-game winning streak so we had to go hard from the beginning,” Acquah said. “I think we came out ready to play, we came out flying and that’s how we got it done today.”

The game got away from Ford (18-6) extremely early. The CHSAA A-South division champions were down 17-1 with 2:50 left in the first quarter, 22-5 heading into the second quarter, 35-7 on a steal and layup by Aguilar and 44-18 at the half.

“We’re just showing that we’re going to play hard every game,” Aguilar said. “This is Gary’s last home game in a Mount uniform so we wanted him to go out with a bang.”

Bishop Ford trailed by as many as 37 late in the third quarter and never got within 20 at any point of the second half.

“We know they’re better than that and there’s a chance we’ll see them again,” Fraher said. “We just wanted to come out, play hard, play like it’s a playoff game and be consistent and efficient with the ball.”

Mount (20-4), which finished second in A-North behind defending champion Iona Prep, has a bye until the intersectional quarterfinals and could play St. Joseph by the Sea, Cardinal Spellman or St. Edmund’s.

Bishop Ford, which was led by Matt Hall’s 12 points, will also play its first game in the quarterfinals, taking on Fordham Prep, St. John’s Prep or Cardinal Hayes. Infortunio is hoping his team purged itself of bad habits in one remarkable 27-point loss.

“If not, it will be a very quick departure and they’ll have a lot of time in March to think about what they’ve done and to watch other teams play,” Infortunio said.

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