Christian Brothers Academy’s streak of consecutive Section II championship-game appearances was in serious jeopardy until Galal Cancer broke from character, and demanded the basketball.
“He demonstrated how good he can be,” CBA coach Dave Doemel said of Cancer’s career-high 30-point outburst in the Class AA semifinals. “Things weren’t going too well for us, and he said, ‘Give me the ball. I’ll take care of the rest.’ ”
Cancer produced 22 of his team’s final 28 points that night, including 10 in overtime, in a 65-62 win against Albany that vaulted the Brothers into their ninth consecutive title game. The 6-foot-2 senior point guard’s two layups inside the final minute of the fourth quarter tied the game before his overtime heroics that included an 8-for-8 performance from the foul line.
“He can do it,” Doemel said of the two-time Daily Gazette All-Area first-team selection. “He can score points, but he’s always subordinated himself to the team effort.”
CBA’s basketball team needed something extra from the four-year varsity performer that March night, though, and he delivered before doing it again with 20 points and eight rebounds in a 69-46 victory over Bishop Maginn in the title game. Cancer was selected the tournament’s most valuable player after winning his third championship, and the school’s sixth in eight years.
“The two of them together, look at the last three years, and the numbers they put up are remarkable,” Doemel said of Cancer and his senior teammate, Gazette All-Area first-teamer Max Weaver. “The way they performed as young guys helped us win. The way they performed as veterans led us. They’re special guys.”
Cancer’s special senior season included 139 free throws and 120 conversions, which, like his 86.3 percent shooting, was the second-highest mark in Section II. He went 16-for-17 from the line against Albany, tying a school record for free throws made in a game, and was 11-for-12 against Bishop Maginn.
“He shot 63 percent as a sophomore,” said Doemel. “To improve that much says a lot about his work and commitment, but that’s him. He kept at it until he perfected it.”
With his drives, dunks, jumpers and foul shots, Cancer scored in double figures 17 times, with 25 points in a 69-37 regional win against Henninger, and he averaged 13 points. The Big 10 MVP rarely turned the ball over while operating from his point guard spot, and supplied excellent man-to-man coverage on defense.
“I had him on the toughest guy in a lot of games,” said Doemel. “Sometimes, that went unnoticed.”
Cancer also led CBA in rebounding for the second year in a row. He snared nine rebounds to go along with 11 points and three assists in CBA’s 61-56 overtime loss to Jamestown in the state semifinals.
“He’s there every game, doing what he needs to do to help us,” said Doemel. “I’ve never seen someone go after the ball with such intensity.’”
Cancer started on teams that finished with won-lost records of 21-4, 24-2 and 23-1 over the last three seasons, when CBA won a pair of Big 10 titles, its three sectional crowns and two state regional contests. The Brothers claimed the state championship during Cancer’s junior year. His signature game came against Half Hollow Hills West in the final, when he scored 19 points and took down 11 rebounds to secure a spot on the all-tourney team.
Cancer, who was recently named to the Basketball Coaches Association of New York top-50 list, will continue his career at Cornell University.
“I told the people at Cornell that Galal will do whatever you want him to do. He’s a worker, and they’ll have him year-round,” said Doemel. “They’re going to see him get so good, and they know it.”
Often showing as many scrapes and bruises as points, Weaver served as an effective and inspirational force during CBA’s drive back to the state Class AA final four.
“He makes plays, and it’s tough to coach that,” said Doemel of the two-time Big 10 first-team all-star. “Kids have to step up do it, and he did. He did it for quite some time.”
While averaging 10.1 points per game in a balanced lineup, CBA’s gritty 6-2 small forward was also contributing rebounds, key passes and defensive stops every game.
“With him, the team came first, no matter what,” said Doemel. “If we needed something done, he was our guy. He didn’t stand out with any one thing, but he did a lot of things very well. He’s a different kind of cat, a special dude.”
Weaver helped CBA put together a 68-7 record with his tangible and intangible contributions, first as a sophomore coming off the bench, and later as a two-year starter.
“He made plays, and he made big plays,” said Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei. “At the end of every game, he was getting an assist, getting a rebound or defending someone dangerous. He did it all the time. He did a lot of things that don’t show in the boxscore that helped them win.”
Weaver was selected to the state Class AA all-tournament team as a junior when the Brothers won the championship, and again as a senior. He delivered 13 points in the state semifinals, his 12th double-digit effort, which included two of his 33 three-point baskets.
“He should have gotten a lot more credit last year for what he did,” said Doemel. “He had just as much to do in the state championship run as anyone.”
Weaver generated a senior season high of 24 points against St. Peter’s of Staten Island, an effort that landed him a spot on the Alumni Holiday Tournament all-star team, and netted 23 against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons with a career-best five threes. His free throw with 2.1 seconds left gave CBA a dramatic 66-65 win over Troy, and the team captain’s two free throws with 55.3 seconds to go broke a tie with the Flying Horses in a 61-57 triumph to kick-start the season.
Weaver made the Gazette’s All-Area second team as a junior after helping CBA tie a school record for wins.
After playing a complementary role as a junior, Jose Reyes transformed himself into one of Section II’s brightest stars, and propelled Shenendehowa to the Suburban Council North Division title. The Plainsmen had 19 wins, and earned a spot in the Class AA semifinals behind his scoring, ball handling, distribution and defense.
“It was his year. He was our most experienced returning guy. If we were going to be successful, he had to play well every night, and he delivered,” Plainsmen coach Tony Dzikas said of the Suburban Council Player of the Year and Section II Class AA tournament all-star.
“I don’t think there’s any question he was one of the most improved players in the area.”
Reyes averaged 7.1 points as a junior with eight double-digit games and a high of 18 points. This season, the team captain averaged 18.6, reached double digits in 20 of 21 games and had outings with 31, 25 and 24 (three times).
The 5-10 point guard sank 43 three-point baskets, including five in a win over Corcoran, and three or more long-distance bombs eight times.
“A big question coming into the season was, ‘Is he going to be a consistent scorer?’ ” Dzikas said. “He pulled it off. Every night, he was a threat. Being a scorer takes a certain amount of mental toughness, and he displayed that.”
The multitalented Reyes averaged 4.5 assists while running the Shenendehowa offense. His bullet feed to Farshad Sarrafi-Nour set up the last-second winning basket in a 52-51 sectional decision over Schenectady.
“His ball handling was really key for us, and he’s very good at finding the open man,” said Dzikas. “He gets rid of the ball in good spots.”
Gifted with quickness and an excellent leaping ability, Reyes also averaged 3.3 steals and 4.5 rebounds in helping Shenendehowa extend its Suburban Council winning streak to 45 games and get back to the Section II final four for the third straight season.
“He was more mature this year, as a player and as a leader,” said Dzikas. “He just grew up.”
Reyes scored nearly half of his team’s points in a sectional semifinal loss to Bishop Maginn, and also fired in a game-high 16 in the Suburban Council’s Senior Game win over the Big 10.
Opposing teams put their defensive focus on Terell Winney, and the senior forward scored nonetheless, putting up 18 points or more 18 times and averaging 24.2 in leading Scotia-Glenville to the Foothills Council title and a spot in the Section II Class A final.
His Section II-leading 499 points pushed his three-year varsity total to 1,157, second best in Tartans’ basketball history.
“His ability to create his own shot went through the roof, and that was directly related to his improved ball handling,” said Giammattei. “He worked extremely hard and came back this year as an improved player.”
Winney scored on drives, putbacks and short jumpers while nailing 64 three-point baskets and going 113-for-140 from the line (80.7 percent). The two-time Foothills Council Most Valuable Player and Gazette All-Area first-team selection fired in a season-high 32 points against Hudson Falls, and three times netted 31.
“He’s a scorer,” said Giammattei. “With him, before every game, you knew he was good for two putbacks, six free throws and two three-pointers. You’re at 16 before it started.”
The Union College-bound Winney not only upped his scoring after averaging 20.8 points as a junior, but also boosted his rebounding average, from 7.2 to 11.7 per game.
Winney took down 13 rebounds, went 11-for-11 from the line, sank four threes and totaled 31 points in a win over Schalmont.
“He’s an absolute warrior on the boards. Look at his body and look at his height [6-2], and it’s fascinating,” Giammattei said. “Rebounding is wanting the basketball. That speaks for his desire to get the ball.”
Winney also got the ball to his teammates, averaging 4.4 assists, and took it away from opponents, averaging 3.3 steals. He had seven steals in a game with Glens Falls, six coming in the fourth quarter as the Tartans held on for a one-point win.
“As hard as it’s going to be to replace his offense, it’s going to be just as hard replacing his defense,” said Giammattei. “He didn’t just play defense. He made plays on defense. He’s a tremendous, tremendous defender.”
Winney helped Scotia-Glenville put together a 19-2 record this season and a 55-9 record in his varsity career, with win streaks of 16, 13, 11 and nine games. As a sophomore he played a key role in the Tartans’ run to the Section II Class A championship, and propelled them back to the title game this season. The Class A all-tournament selection scored the last of his 18 points on two free throws with 2.9 seconds left in a 50-48 semifinal win over Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.
After scoring eight points in a season-opening loss to CBA, Shadell Millinghaus went on an offensive binge, and led Troy to its best season since 2001-02 with 15 wins and a second-place finish in the Big 10.
“I’m very happy with our year, and Shadell had a lot to do with it,” said Jeff Sitterly, who stepped down as Troy’s coach following the season. “He helped our team in a lot of ways.”
The 6-3 junior guard averaged 21.1 points, scored in double digits in 18 of his final 19 games and added 7.2 rebounds per contest in his first campaign with the Flying Horses.
“We knew he was a scorer. We weren’t going to tell him not to take shots,” said Sitterly. “We didn’t want to put the reins on him, and he produced. He scored.”
An outstanding finisher around the basket with three-point ability, the transfer from Schenectady generated 29 points twice to equal his career high, had a pair of 28-point outbursts and also had games with 27 and 25 (two times).
“He became more of a complete player as the season went on,” Sitterly said of the Big 10 first-team all-star. “We talked about some things, and in the second half of the season, he averaged over four assists a game and really started to hit the boards for rebounds. He made a real effort to do other things. He wanted to win, and he did what it took to get there.”
Millinghaus also defended with great intensity, and often turned steals into breakaway dunks or layups.
“His energy level is off the chart. He plays so hard,” Sitterly said of the three-year varsity performer, who has received considerable Division I interest. “There were some games where I never took him out. I didn’t have to.”
Categories: High School Sports