Dec 23, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If anyone had possibly forgotten the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball’s team high place among Central New York programs, it took one exciting performance to make them remember again.
Given little chance to knock off state Class A no. 2-ranked Jamesville-DeWitt last Friday night, the Brothers marched right onto the Red Rams’ home court, rallied from a double-digit deficit, and pulled off a 67-63 victory.
It marked the first time that anyone had beaten J-D in league play since the 2002-03 season, a string of 56 consecutive games.
“This is huge for us,” said CBA head coach Buddy Wleklinski. “You always want to beat someone big, and we did. What a great effort – beating J-D helps boost our confidence level.”
Also, it added new fuel to an already smoldering rivalry between the two neighboring schools. CBA students spilled onto the floor as time ran out, celebrating a win that was, arguably, the program’s biggest since its run to the state final four in 2003.
Perhaps it wasn’t coincidence that the star of that ’03 team, Greg Paulus, was in the stands Friday night, a day after his Duke Blue Devils took a tough overtime loss to Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden. Paulus’s high school alma mater would fare better.
And it seemed like everyone in town wanted to see it. The crowd filled up the J-D gymnasium stands long before tip-off, forcing spectators to head upstairs to the running track so they could watch the game.
Upstairs or downstairs, the fans witnessed a classic, the only time this season CBA and J-D will play each other.
Right away, the Brothers were aggressive, especially on defense, where it forced the Rams to slow the game down. J-D had just four points in the game’s first 5 1/2 minutes, and the Brothers owned a 14-8 edge by the end of the first quarter.
Brandon Triche brought the Rams back. He had 11 of his team’s first 14 points, and when defenders honed in on Triche, he started finding open teammates and J-D’s vaunted offense started to flow again.
Taking the lead late in the second period, the Rams built a 32-26 edge by halftime, then stretched the margin out to 10 on two different occasions in the third quarter.
Even though CBA was down 40-30, Wleklinski said his team did not panic. It showed, as stars Marcus Sales and Mike Goodman led a rally that tied the game, 46-46, late in that third period.
Yet it was the Brothers’ other three starters — Tim Hornstein, Stefan Thompson and Mike Hannan — that would produce the late-game magic after J-D went back in front.
Thompson ran the show with poise and efficiency all night, overcoming some early jitters and never losing his cool as he finished with 11 points.
Hannan, without a field goal before the fourth quarter, made three baskets, two of them back-to-back that nudged CBA ahead 61-59 with three minutes left.
And Hornstein, a dangerous outside shooter, already had a pair of 3-pointers, but his trey with 1:50 left made the score 64-59 and gave him 15 points for the night, a number only topped by Sales, who had 23 points.
J-D wouldn’t leave, though. Triche hit a couple of baskets, raising his total to 27 points, as J-D pulled within one 64-63 and got a chance to go in front after Hannan missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with 25.1 seconds left.
The Rams got two shots — and the second one, by Nick Pascale, hung on the rim but would not fall. Goodman got the rebound and, with 12.6 seconds to play, hit two free throws and made it 66-63. Still with a chance to tie, J-D watched as Hannan made a steal to seal CBA’s big win.
Aside from Triche, Alshwan Hymes led the Rams with just 11 points, and most of them were in the fourth quarter. Pascale added 10 points.
The Red Rams and Brothers prepared for each other by having successful tune-ups last Tuesday night, neither of which proved to be too taxing as the teams did not get caught looking ahead.
In J-D’s case, this meant a trip to Cortland, a tricky proposition in years past that turned more pleasant this time around as it breezed past the Purple Tigers 74-54.
Until it rested all the starters in the fourth quarter, the Red Rams showed little mercy on Cortland, doubling up as it built a 66-33 lead.
Hymes, got 13 points, matching the total of Mickey Davis as Triche beat them both with 14 points. Greg Stern (11 points) also broke into double figures, with Pascale and Lamar Kearse adding six points apiece.
CBA put up an even better start in its game at East Syracuse-Minoa, burying the Spartans early in an 84-50 romp.
Pushing the tempo at all times, CBA put in a blizzard of baskets in the first quarter, building its lead to 34-9 before the buzzer ended the eight-minute onslaught.
Sales finished with 21 points as the Brothers cooled down — but didn’t ease up. Goodman added 15 points, while Troy Bullock stepped up with 11 points. Sean Wayne had seven points, as Mike Kitts and Tim Hornstein earned six points apiece.
Two days later, Sales, also a football star at CBA as a wide receiver and defensive back, announced that he would attend Syracuse University and concentrate on football.
Sales said he would concentrate on football and did not plan to redshirt. He joins an SU squad that already includes two former CBA receivers, Lavar Lobdell and Bruce Williams.
As CBA hosts its annual Holiday Classic on Saturday and Sunday, J-D will go south, to White Plains, to play three games in the Westchester Parks Tournament, featuring some of the state’s elite squads — including three-time defending state Class A champion Peekskill.