For an entire year, the Christian Brothers Academy had devoted itself to going just a few steps further than it did in 2006, when it won the Section III Class A title but lost in the regional finals.
All went according to plan for 23 games. The Brothers went 22-1, repeated as sectional champions and even rose to the top of the state Class A rankings, an imposing squad seemingly destined for Troy and the state final four.
Except that CBA never got there.
In precisely the same round where the dream ended 12 months ago, the Brothers ran into Malone (Section X) and were toppled again, this time by a score of 55-51, in last Saturday's regional final at SUNY-Potsdam.
What had gone right for so long -- hot shooting from the perimeter, combined with a pressure defense that forced opponents into a slew of turnovers -- went awry at the worst possible time.
Part of it could be attributed to the regional schedule. Unlike all other Section III champions, CBA had to play two regional games. Not only that, it had to do so in a span of less than 24 hours, a long way from home.
It all began last Friday, with a long bus trip north to SUNY-Canton for the first regional game against Section VII champion Peru.
This part of the equation was handled with relative ease, as the Brothers hit nine 3-pointers and left Peru far behind on its way to an 84-49 victory.
All the necessary pieces were in place, especially the offense. CBA piled up the points as it built a 46-24 halftime lead and never let Peru get closer.
Sarah Paulus led the attack, earning 23 points and hitting three 3-pointers. Most of Amanda Billy's 18 points came from beyond the arc as she connected on four treys.