Dec 07, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
By any objective measure, it will be difficult for the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team to match what it pulled off a season ago.
First, the Brothers dedicated its home court in honor of long-time coach Buddy Wleklinski. Then it ended the long win streak of Jamesville-DeWitt, the once and future state Class A champions.
To top if off, the dramatics of Stefan Thompson produced an epic Section III Class AA final win over Henninger and a regional final triumph over Albany CBA as the Brothers made it all the way to the state final four in Glens Falls.
With Thompson, Mike Goodman, Mike Kitts and Kyle Chase departed, CBA will rely on many new faces to try and defend its Class AA title. And the adversity only grew when projected starter Sean Wayne was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon suffered in a practice just days before the opener.
The Brothers’ first big occasion came Friday in its first encounter with Henninger since last year’s AA title game during the Peppino’s Invitational. It would come on an emotional night, when Henninger would dedicate its court to Joe Mazella, its coach of 15 years who passed away last September at age 51.
Somehow, the Brothers shook off all this emotion and, in an eerie replay of what took place at Manley Field House nine months ago, rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the Black Knights 53-51.
From the start, CBA was determined to take away Henninger’s outside shooting — and did so, as the Black Knights did not make a single 3-pointer all night.
Yet the Brothers overplayed that hand for a while, as Henninger was able to get open lay-ups near the basket and took the lead midway through the first quarter — which it would hold for a while.
Despite Greg Thomson’s 10 first-half points, CBA trailed, 30-25, at the break, and that deficit grew to 44-33 late in the third quarter. But just as it had done in that memorable sectional title game, the Brothers would fight back.
Clamping down even more on the defensive side, the Brothers put together a 13-2 run, tying it 46-46 on Troy Bullock’s lay-up. After an exchange of baskets, Thomson put home a rebound with 1:45 left, and CBA inched ahead 50-48.
A pair of Pat Wiese free throws made it 52-48, but Henninger’s Kadeem Johnson hit on a three-point play with 55 seconds left, slashing the margin to one, 52-51.
Henninger’s own defense now stepped up, forcing turnovers that gave them two chances to score in the last 15 seconds. Brandon Hanks missed a jump shot from the corner, then, after Bullock sank a free throw with seven seconds left, Tevin Chisholm saw his last-second shot roll off the rim — and CBA won.
Thomson led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds, with Jameel Balenton adding 13 points. Wiese and Bullock each had seven points. Johnson (16 points) and Hanks (12 points) were Henninger’s top scorers.
Before all this, the Brothers opened its season at Fowler, a hard-fought contest where CBA leaned a lot on Wiese and its defense to beat the Falcons 52-43.
Through a low-scoring first half, neither side could put together a run. Thus, despite its poor play, CBA still led 16-14, and when the pace quickened in the last two periods, the Brothers matched every Falcon charge.
Wiese had 22 points, a career high, including a pair of 3-pointers. Fowler’s Malcolom Jones had 20 points, but Wiese had more help as Balenton got 12 points in his starting debut and Troy Bullock earned eight points. Greg Thomson contributed six points.
CBA would have its home opener Tuesday, against East-Syracuse-Minoa (off to its own 2-0 start), before going to Fulton on Friday night.