Christian Brothers Academy takes on Bishop Maginn tonight in a Section II Class AA basketball championship game that no one could have seen coming.
The Golden Griffins won just five regular-season games before putting together one of the great underdog playoff runs by an area team, with victories over higher seeds Bethlehem, Troy and Shenendehowa.
“Coach [Orlando] DiBacco has had them in games all year, but looking back, they ran out of steam or had a four- or five-minute spurt go bad,” CBA coach Dave Doemel said. “Right now, they are playing hard and playing through things.
“Right now, they’re a 3-0 team that’s dangerous. That’s the way I see it.”
CBA (21-0) outlasted Albany in overtime, 65-62, while Bishop Maginn (8-13) rallied past Shenendehowa, 59-50, to set up the third meeting this season and the third title game in five years between the Big 10 rivals at 7 p.m. at the Times Union Center.
Bishop Maginn won sectional championships in 2007 and 2008. The Brothers claimed the last two sectional titles, and also came out best from 2004-06.
CBA will be extending its Section II consecutive title-game appearance record with its ninth tonight, and will be looking to get back to the state tournament it won in 2010. Bishop Maginn captured the state banner in 2008.
“We understand we’ll be in for a battle. This is an old rivalry, and one both schools cherish,” said Doemel. “This is a game and a venue that probably brings the most out of all the kids. If you don’t get fired up for this, you don’t have a bloodstream.”
Bishop Maginn lost its final regular-season game at Catholic Central, 44-42, before posting a 67-64 overtime win against Bethehem, avenging two setbacks with a 76-64 triumph over Troy, and surging over the final minutes to beat the Plainsmen with a 14-3 run.
“The guys have grown up,” DiBacco said of his underclassmen-dominated team. “They’re understanding the importance of possessions and stops. They’re realizing the importance of every trip down the court. It’s never been a matter of playing hard with these guys.”
“We’re playing for each other,” said Bishop Maginn junior Antoine Johnson.
Maurice West and Matt Petruccione scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, Jay Briceeus had nine points and nine rebounds, Johnson contributed eight points and 11 rebounds and Demere Hannah nailed a clinching three-point basket when Maginn topped Shenendehowa. The Plainsmen came in with a 19-1 record and No. 10 state ranking.
“They had multiple guys perform well and step up,” said Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas. “They hit shots, forced us into more turnovers than we usually have, and they hurt us on the boards.”
“I don’t think we played our best game,” said Petruccione, a senior. “We played aggressive, got some turnovers and got some rebounds, but everyone understands we can play better. We’ll have to in order to beat CBA.”
“They really put their mind into making a great run in the sectionals,” said Doemel. “They’ve been a very determined team. Coach DiBacco has done a great job of bringing them up from the depths.”
CBA is back in another final after beating Saratoga Springs, 70-28; Shaker, 60-23, when it set a team record for fewest points allowed in a game; and Albany in a thriller.
“I’m hoping some of the mistakes we made the other night [in the semifinal] we can correct,” said Doemel. “Albany played fantastic defense, and we did not react well to that. We were a little hesitant.”
Cornell-bound guard Galal Cancer scored 30 points, which included a 16-for-17 performance from the foul line, when the state’s No. 3-ranked team topped Albany. Cancer forced overtime with two late layups, and scored 10 of his team’s 12 overtime points.
Joe Krong had 16 points, while Max Weaver, the third key holdover from last season’s team, was limited to three while nursing a sore knee.
“He’s a senor. He’s a captain. He knew things weren’t going too well, and he kind of took the team on his shoulders,” said Doemel of Cancer, a 2010 Daily Gazette All-Area first-teamer. “During one timeout, he told [Christian] Signor, ‘Get me the ball. We’re not going to lose this game.’ As a coach, you’ve got to love it when one of your leaders steps up like that.”
Doemel is worried about Bishop Maginn’s potential to step up as an offensive unit. Four Griffins scored in double digits against Bethlehem and Troy. In the Troy game, West had 18 points and Hannah had 17, and the sophomore’s four first-half treys helped Maginn upon up a 36-26 advantage.
“We’ve got to make a firm commitment to playing defense for 32 minutes,” said Doemel, whose Brothers beat the Griffins, 68-45, and 62-52, earlier this season. “Bishop Maginn is attack, attack. We’ve got to withstand that. We can’t take a second off.”
Tonight’s winner meets Henninger High School of Syracuse (Section III, 18-3) Saturday in a regional final at 2 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
CANNONEERS AT POTSDAM
Watervliet (18-4) plays Potsdam (Section X, 22-0) tonight in a state Class B regional semifinal game at 7:45 at SUNY-Potsdam. Watervliet beat Fonda-Fultonville for the Section II Class B title — the school’s 15th title since 1982 — before a triumph over Catskill in the Class BB-B playoff. Tonight’s winner gets Northeastern Clinton (Section VII, 18-1) in the regional final Saturday at 12:45 at SUNY-Plattsburgh.
Germantown (15-6) plays Moriah (Section VII, 11-10) in a Class D regional semifinal tonight at 6 at Rensselaer High School. The winner goes against Chateaugay (Section X, 21-1) Saturday at 2 at SUNY-Potsdam.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports