Dec 04, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Amid a setting fueled by both high emotion and hostility, the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team began its journey through the 2007-08 season.
And the Brothers stood up quite well to all the challenges, nearly making a ferocious comeback from a double-digit deficit at Henninger before taking a 62-56 loss to the Black Knights in the featured game of the two-day Peppino’s Invitational.
By its own high standards, CBA had a so-so 2006-07 season, only going 13-9 and falling to Corcoran in the Section III Class AA quarterfinal despite the presence of two star players in Marcus Sales and Mike Goodman.
Right after the season ended, Goodman had knee surgery, and he’s back at 100 percent. Sales, the leading scorer in Class AA a season ago, is also back, and the pair makes CBA a title contender again — if their teammates can offer their share of contributions, too.
As with both of CBA’s soccer teams, the basketball Brothers will play the majority of its schedule against Class A opponents in the OHSL Freedom division, then move up to Class AA for the sectional playoffs.
To that end, head coach Buddy Wleklinski needed to schedule every non-league game against AA teams — and that included Henninger, who returns Ben Cronin, a 7-1 senior center headed for the University of Michigan next fall.
Just four days before this game, Cronin suffered a devastating personal tragedy when his father, Sean, suffered a heart attack and passed away. He was just 49.
Sean Cronin’s funeral took place the morning of the game. The night before, all of the CBA players and coaches attended the wake to pay their respects.
Aside from that emotional backdrop, Henninger added to the atmosphere by honoring its five members of the 1,000-point club — Andray Blatche, Chris Turner, Latavia Escho, Maurice Brown and Lazarus Sims.
Escho, Brown and Sims were on hand for the ceremony, while Turner and Blatche could not make it due to their pro commitments (Blatche is a center for the NBA’s Washington Wizards).
Once they got to the game, it proved to be an intense and physical battle, with Henninger leading most of the way. The inside work of Cronin, combined with the all-around skills of 5-10 junior guard Kihary Blue, forced the Brothers to trail by as much as eight in the first half.
Down 30-23 at the break, CBA cut the margin to one, 31-30, early in the third quarter, then saw Henninger work its way into a 52-41 lead with less than five minutes to play.
Yet again, the Brothers roared back, going on an 11-1 run capped by Sales hitting a runner and 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions. At 53-51, CBA had chances to tie or go in front, but the shots went off target.
Cronin would make two big plays toward the end, sinking a pair of free throws with a minute left to make it 56-51, then blocking a shot by when the margin was down to three.
Sales led his side with 21 points, most of them in the second half. Stefan Thompson, the Brothers’ new point guard, had 11 points, while Goodman gained nine points and Tim Hornstein threw in eight points.
For his part, Cronin had 13 points, sharing the spotlight with Blue, who led Henninger with 19 points.
CBA was set to open league play Tuesday, at Fowler — but the snow postponed the game. Thus, the Brothers would have its home opener Friday, against Fulton, before playing Queensbury (Section II) in Sunday’s Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge at Glens Falls Civic Center, annual site of the state and Federation championships.