Feb 28, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team tore out to a 10-0 lead early in Saturday night’s Section III Class AA semifinal against top seed Cicero-North Syracuse at LeMoyne College, it appeared that the quest for back-to-back sectional titles was right on course.
By night’s end, though, the Brothers’ train had derailed — and a one-time pupil of Buddy Wleklinski had secured his biggest coaching win yet.
The Northstars fought back, led by halftime, and withstood the Brothers’ fourth-quarter push to preavil, 53-47, and advance to its first sectional final since 1992, where it will play Utica Proctor Sunday for the AA championship.
Two decades ago, Wleklinski had, on his team, a three-sport star named John Haas, so skilled that he would earn a place in the CBA Athletic Hall of Fame.
Now Haas was coaching CNS, who carried a 17-2 mark into the sectional semifinals — with CBA, the defending champions, standing in the way.
The game had a constant theme. CNS would be in trouble many different times – and each time, it answered with strong play that eventually led to victory.
It took more than five minutes for the Northstars to even get on the board, as shot after shot rolled off the rim and CBA dominated the boards on its way to a 10-0 lead. Four different Brothers — Troy Bullock, Pete Corasaniti, Greg Thomson and Jameel Balenton — scored during this run.
By the second quarter, CBA’s lead was gone, and CNS junior forward Zach Coleman had a lot to do with it.
Coleman would, in a span of barely three minutes, hit two free throws, convert on a lay-up, connect on a 3-pointer and add one more basket. All this gaveCNS a 21-15 lead before a Pat Wiese 3-pointer cut the margin to 21-18 as they went to the break.
After a quiet first half with just one field goal, Andy Falvey began to show up in the third period, the senior forward getting six points to counter all of CBA’s charges as the Northstars stayed out in front, 33-30.
CBA would not run away, though. Twice in a 45-second span early in the fourth quarter, Wiese drained 3-pointers, and CBA surged in front, 37-36. With a season on the line, the Northstars had to respond – and did.
The response came in the form of eight straight points that put CNS ahead for good. In order, Coleman, Falvey and Elliott Boyce hit on lay-ups, and Deyon Smith capped the spurt with a steal and basket that made it 43-36 with 3:13 to play.
“That’s what we’ve done all year,” Haas said. “Every time, we can find what is working.”
Though the Brothers would never go away, CNS clinched the game with Coleman hitting on all six of his free throws in the final minute.
All told, Coleman had 17 points, with Falvey adding 12 points. On CBA’s side, Wiese had 14 points and Troy Bullock added 13 points, but forward Greg Thomson had just seven points as Falvey contained him well.
CBA ended up at 14-6, and will see another strong senior class depart that includes Wiese, Bullock, Balenton, Corasaniti, Yosh Karbowniczak, Shaun McGraw and John Dunmore. And who knows where this season might have turned had Sean Wayne not been hurt on the brink of the opener.
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