Feb 22, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When it came to the regular-season part in 2009-10, it was clear that the Corcoran boys basketball team, with a 15-3 record, had outplayed city rival Henninger, who had gone 10-8.
Thus, as the Section III Class AA playoffs got underway, it was fashionable to consider the deep, experienced and talented Cougars as favorite to win it all —and to dismiss the Black Knights’ chances.
Yet it was Henninger still standing when the quarterfinals were done Friday night.
Just as the year before, the Black Knights knocked out Fayetteville-Manlius, doing so in a 50-46 decision, while Corcoran, even on its home court, could not keep up with defending Class AA champion Christian Brothers Academy in a 74-62 defeat.
Amid Henninger’s struggles to find itself this winter, it had beaten Corcoran for the Mayor’s Cup late in December. More importantly, it had remained the nemesis of F-M, beating the Hornets 67-64 in double overtime Jan. 5 — this on top of two OT wins over the Hornets last season, including the Class AA semifinals.
F-M swore it would be different this time inside its own cozy home court, dubbed the “Hornets’ Nest”, but Henninger had other ideas.
Playing all-out on the defensive side, the Black Knights forced the Hornets into 15 turnovers in the first half alone. And when Henninger’s offense started to produce on a consistent basis, it led to a 29-22 halftime lead.
Of course, F-M would not fade quietly, holding Henninger to nine points in the third quarter as it cut down on the turnovers and even took one-point leads on two different occasions in the final period.
But Henninger stayed cool and poised in the raucous, hostile atmosphere, reclaiming the lead for good on a clutch Tevin Chisholm 3-pointer and using Brandon Hanks’ steal and lay-up in the closing seconds to seal the victory.
Chisholm and Kadeem Johnson both had 13 points to lead the Black Knights’ attack, while Markell Stith earned seven points. F-M’s Brian Zapisek, who is going to LeMoyne College next fall, had 14 points in his last high-school game as Jack Giles led with 15 points. Henninger held F-M’s other star player, Mike O’Neil, to a single 3-pointer.
As the Black Knights prepared for a Class AA semifinal showdown with no. 2 seed Utica Proctor Friday at Rome Free Academy, Corcoran pondered what had gone wrong against CBA.
At first, it was the Cougars’ inability to defend the perimeter. The Brothers hit three 3-pointers in the game’s first 90 seconds to take a lead it would never relinquish, and eventually connected on seven of 10 shots from beyond the arc in the first half.
Trailing by as much as 16, Corcoran pulled back within 36-26 by halftime, then bolted out of the gate in the third quarter, pulling within four, 39-35, as it appeared to be finding its top form.
But the battle-tested Brothers did not get rattled. Instead, it turned to forward Greg Thomson, who got 13 of his 17 points in the second half, mostly off rebound baskets. Corcoran never got closer than six, 59-53, in the fourth quarter.
Corcoran still put four players in double figures, as Marsean Brown and Algeron Torrence each had 13 points, Riley Stroman got 12 points and Brandon Reed added 10 points. On CBA’s side, Pat Wiese (19 points) and Troy Bullock (18 points) aided Thomson’s efforts, with Jameel Balenton contributing 13 points before he fouled out in the fourth quarter.