From the outside, then from the inside, and from all other parts of the court, the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team found new ways to frustrate Corcoran in Friday night's Section III Class AA quarterfinal.
As a result, the no. 5 seed Brothers, by a winning margin of 74-62 over the no. 4 seed Cougars, advance to next weekend's semifinal round against top seed Cicero-North Syracuse.
CBA, as the defending AA champions, bring valuable experience into the post-season, and junior center Greg Thomson said that know-how in big games helped against Corcoran.
"We don't want it (our title reign) to be over yet," Thomson said.
In the wake of a narrow 51-49 defeat to Class A powerhouse Jamesville-DeWitt in the regular-season finale on Feb. 12, CBA head coach Buddy Wleklinski offered his players the weekend off - but they came in to practice on a Sunday. Wleklinski said the team's chemistry is reflected in that desire to work hard, even when it's not required.
"This is a close-knit team, and they play for each other," he said.
CBA also knows how to exploit any chance given to them, as Corcoran, a team favored by many to take the AA title, quickly found out.
In the game's first 90 seconds, the Brothers hit three 3-pointers - one by Pat Wiese, another by Troy Bullock, then a third from Jameel Balenton. Four more would follow as CBA went seven-for-10 in the first half from beyond the arc.
"When the opportunities are there to shoot, the kids take them," Wleklinski said.
The Brothers led by as much as 16 in the first half, and still had a double-digit advantage (36-26) going into halftime as Balenton and Bullock, with 11 points apiece, led the charge.
Corcoran refused to back away, though, climbing four, 39-35, early in the third quarter, and staying within single digits for much of the second half.