TROY — Though Christian Brothers Academy lost the lead momentarily in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Section II Class AA quarterfinal game with Mekeel Christian Academy, eighth-grader JJ Osinksi and his teammates never flinched.
Osinski and JT Vogel both converted 3-point plays back-to-back early in the final quarter to kick-start a furious charge that ended in a 57-49 victory for the Brothers at Hudson Valley Community College.
“Our momentum picked up right there and we didn’t look back,” Osinski said of the quick six points that gave his team a 41-39 lead. “The bench got loud. Our section got loud.”
And the Brothers (No. 2 seed, 14-6) kept adding on points, which included a 14-5 run that finished off the first-time Class AA participating Lions (No. 10, 15-6).
Osinski scored 11 of his 16 points in that last quarter when CBA outscored Mekeel 22-12. CBA cut into a 28-22 halftime deficit before that by outscoring Mekeel 13-9 in the third frame when Matt Sgambati netted nine of his 13 points.
“Sgambatti lit the fire and JJ finished it off,” CBA coach Dave Doemel said.
Mekeel was up 44-43 after Terrence Robinson drove for a layup with 3:55 left. JT Vogel answered with a pair of free throws to nudge CBA ahead, Oreo Datayo added two more from the line, and Osinski made it 54-47 with a 3-point basket and his second three-point play of the last quarter.
“He’s been big at big moments all year,” Doemel said of Osinski, the son of former Schalmont and Siena College star Corey Osinski. “His maturity belies his age.”
CBA players went 11-for-11 from the line in the last quarter and 20 for 21 in the contest. Kelan Leak sank the final two to create the final margin, part of his 14-point performance.
“We’ve been telling the guys all year that games are won and lost from the line,” Doemel said. “I guess it’s true.”
CBA beat La Salle in the 2022 semifinals before a title-game loss to Green Tech, when it was denied its first area flag since 2012.
The Brothers will return to the final four Thursday for a 5 p.m. semifinal matchup with Saratoga Springs (No. 3, 17-5) at Cool Insuring Arena. The Blue Streaks advanced with a 69-66 triumph over Shenendehowa (No. 11, 8-13) earlier Sunday.
CBA defeated Saratoga 65-50 in a Suburban Council game on Jan, 17.
Mekeel was denied what would have been its seventh consecutive Section II tournament semifinal berth. Isaiah Rose paced Mekeel with 21 points, Robinson had 13 and Nykim Taylor put in 12.
“Mekeel is very good,” Doemel said. “Their discipline and the number of sets they run to get in the paint concerned me.”
Rose scored 11 points in the first half to help stake his team to a 28-22 lead.
“We came out in the first half slow,” Osinski said. “Coach in the locker room woke us up.”
Mekeel made its Class AA tournament debut with a 61-45 first-round win over Shaker Wednesday when Oryan DeJesus and Robinson both scored 18 points. A Section II criteria put in place before the 2016-17 season states that private schools must move up a class for sectional play if they reach consecutive championship games, as Mekeel did last year and in 2020 and when it earned Class A titles.
Mekeel lost in the Section II Class B title game in 2017 and won it in 2018, resulting in its move to Class A. Mekeel — then Schenectady Christian School — secured its first Section II title (Class CC) in 2007.
CBA 12 10 13 22 — 57
Mekeel Christian Academy 15 13 9 12 — 49
CBA scoring: White 0-3-3, Leak 4-5-14, Vogel 1-3-5, Osinski 5-5-16, Sgambati 6-0-13, Dataylo 1-4-6. Mekeel scoring: Rose 7-5-21, Robinson 6-0-13, Taylor 5-1-12, DeJesus 1-1-3. Team totals: 17-20-57; Mekeel 19-7-49.