Feb 19, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
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.
Yet every time the Cougars inched closer, CBA would do something positive in response, especially Thomson. His rebound baskets late in the period restored the Brothers’ margin, and he clinched the game with another lay-up with 1:31 to play.
All told, Thomson had 13 of his 17 points in the second half, and he said those opportunities opened up because of all the 3-pointers CBA hit early.
Wlekinski said Thomson, normally a quiet kid, spoke up and asked for the ball late, which fired up the rest of the team.
Wiese led with 19 points, including several late free throws, as Bullock got 18 points and Balenton had 13 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
On Corcoran’s side, Marsean Brown had a team-beast 15 points, while Algeron Torrence had 13 points and Riley Stroman got 12 points.
Now CBA awaits Saturday’s semifinal with CNS, to be played at LeMoyne College at 7:45.
Of course, the Northstars’ coach, John Haas, was a star for the Brothers in the late 1980s in three sports, playing basketball under Wleklinski’s tutelage on his way to an eventual honor in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The winner gets Utica Proctor or Henninger in the Class AA final at Utica Memorial Auditorium on March 7.