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Getting defensive: Pinkston leads Loughlin to CHSAA ‘AA’ semis

Jayvaughn Pinkston has made his name as an offensive force in the paint and on the perimeter. The McDonald’s All-American is a 6-foot-6, 220-pound ball of power with a finesse streak.

Friday, March 5, the Villanova-bound forward did his best work on the defensive end in leading Bishop Loughlin past All Hallows, 64-54, in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals at Christ the King in Queens. The Lions went on to meet Rice in the semifinals this past Wednesday at St. John’s University (the game occurred after this paper’s press deadline).

In a game-turning 19-6 run, Pinkston drew two charges and blocked two shots, wiping away baskets for the Gaels and leading to points in transition for Loughlin. Later, he drew the fifth and final foul on Gaels forward Omar Kellman, who finished with 11 points.

“He does a lot on the defensive end,” Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez said. “He doesn’t get enough credit for what he does over there. He sacrifices his body.”

Pinkston was also a force offensively, scoring a game-high 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. With fellow senior standout Branden Frazier quiet, Devonte Dunham and Mark York picked up the slack, scoring 13 and 10, respectively.

Mike Alvarado led the Gaels with 14 points and Geoffrey Tolentino had 13.

Loughlin (22-5), ranked second in The Post’s NYC boys basketball rankings, got off to a slow start and trailed 21-14 late in the first half, but turned the game around with a 22-9 third quarter. Pinkston had eight in the frame – all in the paint – in addition to his defensive prowess.

His teammates began to pressure the ball more, too, forcing All Hallows onto the perimeter for errant jump shots. The result was open looks and fast break opportunities.

“That motivated everybody,” Dunham said of Pinkston’s blocked shot. “When he makes plays like that, it makes everybody want to play defense.”

All Hallows (12-14) was down just six early in the fourth quarter and poised to get even close when Alvarado, a Manhattan recruit, drove to the basket. Out of nowhere, Pinkston pinned his layup on the glass, leading to an Anthony Givens jumper. The Gaels failed to get closer than nine the rest of the way.

“I think our best game is yet to come, when everybody is on the same page,” Gonzalez said.

There’s no time like the present. Motivation won’t be a problem when the Lions return to the semifinals. They have made it there each of the last two years, only to falter. Plus, the opponent – Rice – won the only matchup between the two, 71-56, Jan. 15 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

“I’m hungry,” Pinkston said. “It’s all or nothing.”

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