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Posted Monday, April 20, 2009 by Coach Tim Philp

There are certain reputations that basketball players covet. Some are known as gifted passers or highlight-reel dunkers. Others are known for their character, such as being a leader or a hard worker.

Sherrod Wright, though, leaves Mount Vernon with perhaps the most envious distinction of all.

In a season where the Knights' championship aspirations were in doubt, Wright not only established himself as the area's most clutch performer, but also earned a legacy as one of the best big-game players in school history.

"He took over some games and put us on his back more so than any player I've ever had," Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said. "It was very similar to the way Ben (Gordon) did it. Sherrod had an ability to score in so many different ways, inside and outside. It was reminiscent of Ben."

Wright's r?m?f breathtaking fourth quarters made him the obvious choice as The Journal News Westchester/Putnam boys basketball player of the year.

The 6-foot-4 forward carried Mount Vernon to its ninth Section 1 championship in 10 years, posting remarkable pressure performances along the way.

"I think I really developed that in the past year," Wright said. "I felt whenever my team needed me, I had to be there for them. The third and fourth quarters were my time. That was my role."

Take your pick as to which of Wright's performances was the best.

It started in Oregon in late December when he scored 14 third-quarter points as the Knights blew past Jefferson (Ore.) in the semifinals of the Les Schwab Invitational.

Two weeks later, he turned a tight game at White Plains into a personal exhibition, scoring 13 consecutive points in the final three minutes of the third quarter.

Wright, who averaged 23.4 points per game, showcased his talent for a television audience in late January. He carried Mount Vernon back from a 10-point second-half deficit against Jefferson (Brooklyn) in the SNY Invitational semifinals, scoring 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter.

In the final, he had 28 points in a win over St. Raymond's.

What he called his best game came Feb. 6 against New Rochelle. With the Knights trailing by 11 at home at halftime, he put up 24 of his 31 points in the second half of an 81-66 victory.

Wright rescued the season in the Class AA semifinals on Feb. 26. He scored 20 straight Mount Vernon points, from late in the third quarter to the final minute of the fourth, as the Knights beat Yorktown 54-47.

After earning MVP honors with 24 points in the Section 1 final, Wright put the Knights on his back one final time. In the state regional final before a capacity crowd at Pace University, he scored 14 straight fourth-quarter points before Mount Vernon lost on a 55-foot heave at the buzzer to eventual state champion Newburgh Free Academy (Section 9).

"It was extremely tough," Cimmino said. "It was devastating to him, as well as the others. But he had more invested than them."

Wright is his own toughest critic. When asked to assess his season recently, he gave himself a "C-plus, maybe a B," because the season didn't end with a state title.

As clutch performers go, however, Wright was unmatched.

"That's the best thing people can say about you," Wright said. "You have guys who thrive in the third and fourth quarters. Over time, I really developed being a clutch player."

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