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.