A team effort, led by seniors Marquise Moore and Mairega Clarke, both of them earning all-league honors, carried Holy Cross High School to the championship of the Brooklyn-Queens Diocesan title of the Catholic High Schools Athletic Association.
Now the Knights from Flushing are in the CHSAA Intersectional tournament as the first seeded team and have a possible chance of a trip to the state tournament.
And Clarke’s father Selyn did not grow up in New York but is a native of Trinidad where basketball was not the primary sport. It was soccer and cricket. But Selyn’s sport was running.
“That’s where I think I got my athleticism from,” Mairega Clarke said. “I think my father was a high jumper.”
Prior to the title game against Brooklyn’s Bishop Loughlin at a neutral St. Francis Prep High School court in Fresh Meadows, Selyn told his son to go out there, play hard, and don’t worry about anything.
The 6’5” Clarke, the tallest player on the team as he blocked eight shots, three short of his career high, turned in one of his best games of the season for a squad that enters the city-wide tournament with a 22-4 overall record.
“At the beginning of the season many people didn’t think we would be as good as we are,” Clarke said after the 60-57 victory over Bishop Loughlin. “We knew that we had a lot of talent. We knew that we had to put ‘it’ together, and not be selfish.”
That’s just what he and his teammates did; as the Knights are carrying a roster of 14 players, including six seniors. The most important thing is that the team works very hard. And hard work certainly pays off.
“Our coach (Paul Gilvary) is great,” Clarke said. “Everyone is great. We like each other and we work hard.”
“Clarke had a lot of blocks,” said Head Coach Gilvary. “He is a very, very good player. He’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be. He did not play basketball as a young kid. He has a lot of catching up to do. He can handle the ball, shoot the ball, is a tremendous defensive player, is an excellent rebounder, and is a super athlete. There’s nothing on the court he can’t do.”
Clarke did not grow up in New York, for he spent his early days in Trinidad.
“I came here (to Queens) when I was 12 or 13,” the student athlete said. “ I played midfield in soccer and cricket, but never played basketball in Trinidad. I played soccer when I was in the eighth grade, stopped and started to get into basketball.”
Clarke played in various summer leagues and in tournaments, including one at IS 8 in Queens.
During the spring and off season Clarke will work out, get better, and get ready for college.
Meanwhile, the coaching staff also consisting of Robert Offley and Lloyd Desvigne has been very satisfied with the way the team progressed during the season and knew that they could do it.
“I’m very happy for the kids to get a chance to accomplish a goal and win a championship,” said Gilvary, who has been coaching for the past 16 years. “We have a lot of good teams in our league. The kids played well all season. To be able to top it off with a Diocesan championship is very special.
“This is the fifth time in the last seven years we’ve played for it, and is the second time that we won it. We’re 2-3 in those games.”
Clarke looks very promising for the future and should develop into a very good college player wherever he ends up. However, he, like the rest of the seniors, still have work to do. He has to improve on his SATs. Just having a scholarship to a college will be great.
Clarke will be a terrific college player for somebody,” Gilvary summed up. “There’s no doubt about it.”