Bishop Maginn boys’ basketball coach Rich Hurley often urges on his Golden Griffins with the words, “Keep playing, keep playing.”
At some point in tonight’s sold-out Big 10 game at longtime rival Christian Brothers Academy, Hurley will likely deliver that message again, as a reminder to never relax.
“We practice that way. It’s not something we just do on Tuesday and Friday nights. It’s a culture we’ve tried to create at Bishop Maginn, and the guys understand that,” Hurley said. “They do it because they don’t want to let anyone down. They don’t want to let our fans down, and they don’t want to let themselves down.”
That all-out, end-to-end assault finally caught up with CBA late in its Dec. 21 matchup with Bishop Maginn at the Washington Avenue Armory. With the game knotted at 42-42, the Golden Griffins sprung to life with pressure defense and eight unanswered points for a
“We were right with them, but you’ve got to play 32 minutes, not 27. You can’t play part of a game because they’re so opportunistic,” CBA coach Dave Doemel said. “If you’re not totally prepared to react on every play, they’ll make you pay.”
Bishop Maginn made CBA pay in last season’s Section II Class AA title game, as well, roaring back with a 16-8 fourth-quarter run to stun the Brothers, 48-43, and deny them a fourth straight banner, while capturing its first. Maginn used that victory as a springboard toward the state championship game.
“They’re relentless,” said
Doemel. “There was a play in our last game where we broke their press, had them beat, and all four guys ran down the ball from behind. That’s the sign of a good team. They never think any play is a given.”
That last win gave Bishop Maginn (12-0, 15-1) the driver’s seat in the race for the Big 10 top spot, where CBA (12-1, 16-1) finished three of the last four seasons. Maginn finished second in the league last year at
14-2, losing only to 16-0 CBA.
“From the start of the season, we set goals, and one was winning the league,” Hurley said. “We’ve never won a Big 10 title here. We’re trying for that, and the No. 1 seed for the sectionals. At the same time, our goals include trying to get better every day.”
Bishop Maginn has played some of its best ball in the second half of its games, and as a byproduct of its diligent work, has vaulted to No. 5 in the state Class AA rankings. CBA is No. 12 in the state, and has won 10 consecutive games since losing to the Griffins.
“In the last six games they’ve played, teams have had them in a hole, and credit their kids, they came back,” Doemel said. “They never think they’re done for. They attack when they’re behind, and when they’re ahead.”
Bishop Maginn did not attack with the efficiency that Hurley would prefer in the initial meeting with CBA. Though senior forward Shimeek Johnson managed to score 20 points, the 54 points were a season low for a team that has surpassed 80 five times, and put up 107 against Albany.
“CBA’s defense was very good the last time,” Hurley said. “We’ve got to try to crack their defense, shoot better than we did and pick up the pace. We want to get it up-tempo.”
CBA would prefer to play a more deliberate game in an attempt to create high-percentage looks at the basket. The Brothers will have scoring leader Malcolm Austin
(19 ppg) back in the lineup after the senior swingman missed Tuesday’s 62-44 win over Troy with a viral infection. John Mantas and Kameron Ritter stepped up to fill the void with a career highs of 22 and 16 points, respectively.
“You’re looking at two contrasting styles. We play different, and that makes this game even more unique,” said Hurley. “You’ve got two teams trying to do two different things.”
“We have to dictate the tempo on offense. We’ve just got to do it,”
Doemel said. “We’ve got to move the ball and find the next guy, and we’ve got to play smart.
“When we were watching game film [of the first game] and I pointed some things out, I could hear some moans. The guys know they made some mental errors. Physical errors sometimes occur, but we have to eliminate the mental errors.”
Austin, Mantas and Ritter will be coupled in CBA’s starting lineup with DeAndre Kennedy-Ebron (16.4 ppg) and 6-foot-8 Andrew Stire, with Jordan Sherman and Chris Agan among those coming off the bench.
“They’ll play eight guys and run up and down. Our other guys have to be prepared to come in and contribute,” Doemel said. “The other night Agan came off the bench and did a good job for us. He didn’t score, but his play got us going on a surge. We need that kind of play.”
The Central Connecticut State-bound Johnson (15.3 ppg) played a strong game with 27 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s 69-55 win over Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. Sophomore standout Taran Buie (16.7 ppg) netted 15 points and Terron Victoria (13.3 ppg) added 10 as the Griffins. who also feature Bunduka Kargbo, Khaliq Gross, James Torres and Antonio Davis, won their 11th straight contest.
Bishop Maginn has lost only to Section III’s Jamesville-DeWitt, the state’s No. 3-ranked Class A team, 68-66.
“They’ve been right there, biting at our heels the last couple of years,” Doemel said of the Griffins. “It’s not like this is out of nowhere.”
League unbeatens Guilderland (12-0, 14-2), Albany Academy
(12-0, 13-3) and Saratoga Catholic (10-0, 13-3) will also be in action
tonight. Guilderland plays at Columbia (2-9, 4-11) in a Suburban Council Gold Division game, Academy hosts Mechanicville (10-3, 14-3) in the Colonial Council headliner, and Saratoga Catholic hosts Fonda-Fultonville (9-1, 14-2) with its sights on the Western Athletic Conference Northern Division championship.
The Big 10-leading Amsterdam girls (9-0, 16-0), ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AA, host rival Catholic Central (5-4, 11-6). Since losing at home to Amsterdam,
77-55, Catholic Central has won 10 straight games.
The Schenectady Christian girls (10-0, 16-0) can wrap up the WAC Southern Division title tonight at Berne-Knox-Westerlo (9-1, 13-3). The Bulldogs have won seven in a row since losing at Schenectady Christian, 52-41.
braves clinch in wac
Paula Egelston collected 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals, and Fonda-Fultonville
(11-0, 14-3) clinched its fifth straight Western Athletic Conference Northern Division championship Thursday night with a 57-31 win over Saratoga Catholic.
Britteny Lasky scored 10 points, and Amy Hitchcock had eight points and seven rebounds as the Braves won their 52nd straight division game. Betsey Towne scored 19 points for the Saints (8-3, 8-8).
Hillary Kollar scored 23 points, and Johnstown (6-4, 8-8) built a big first-half lead en route to a 51-43 Foothills Council win at Broadalbin-Perth (5-5, 6-9).
Heidi Anderson scored 19 points, 11 in a 16-4 first-quarter push, and Canajoharie (10-7) went on to post a 42-24 non-league win at Fort Plain (5-12).
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
SARATOGA CATHOLIC 31
Anderson 1-0-2, Rizzo 1-1-3, Towne 6-5-19, Diggins 0-2-2, Raccuia 1-0-2, Henry 0-3-3. Totals: 9-11-31.
Sullivan 2-2-6, Lasky 3-1-10, Hanson 1-0-2, Hitchcock 4-0-8, Nowak 1-0-2, Egelston 7-4-18, Jacobs 3-0-6, Baker 2-0-5. Totals: 23-7-57.
Saratoga Catholic 6 7 5 13 — 31
Fonda-Fultonville 15 11 22 9 — 57
Three-point goals: Towne 2, Lasky 3, Baker.
Croucher 1-0-2, Derwin 0-3-3, H. Kollar 9-4-23, Kosowicz 4-5-13, Murray 0-1-1, Nellis 1-0-2, Sweet 1-4-7. Totals: 16-17-51.
Ferlazzo 2-2-6, Light 7-0-14, Magliocca 1-0-2, McMullen 5-2-12, Murphy 3-0-7, Potts 1-0-2. Totals: 19-4-43.
Johnstown 18 10 10 13 — 51
Broadalbin-Perth 8 6 16 13 — 43
Three-point goals: H. Kollar, Sweet, Murphy.
CANAJOHARIE 42, FORT PLAIN 24
Blood 3-1-7, Anderson 9-0-19, Liddle 1-1-3, Mosher 2-0-4, Aldi 2-1-5, Hohenforst 0-2-2, Haig 1-0-2. Totals: 18-5-42.
Baum 2-0-5, Vance 2-0-5, Compton 1-0-3, Kane 1-2-4, Logan 2-0-5, Manchester 1-0-2. Totals: 9-2-24.
Canajoharie 16 4 11 11 — 42
Fort Plain 2 4 13 5 — 24
Three-point goals: Anderson, Baum, Vance, Compton, Logan.