Christian Brothers Academy provided Schenectady with plenty of motivation when it won by a point on the Patriots’ court in December.
In the rematch Friday night, the Brothers had plenty of answers.
“In the pre-game, coach talked about being passionate and leaving everything on the floor. We did that,” CBA junior guard Nick Marini said after his team’s 72-55 win. “He talked about taking pride in everything you do.”
Playing aggressive at one end and executing when it had the ball, CBA raced to a quick double-digit lead and never surrendered it in a runaway Big 10 triumph at Ned McGraw Gymnasium.
The win was CBA’s seventh in a row since the new year and 16th straight against Schenectady going back to the 2005-06 season. The last victory in the series, a 47-46 nail-biter, came about when Marini turned a steal into a layup in the closing seconds, and the Brothers were ready for a big Patriots response that never materialized.
“The last couple of games, we’ve been a little tipsy,” said CBA senior guard Drew Brundige. “We let them know we were here to play.”
The Brothers (13-1, 14-2) built an 18-6 first-quarter lead, and began the second period with an 18-7 thrust to go up, 36-13.
“We spotted them again,” said Schenectady coach Eric Loudis, whose team had erased a double-digit deficit in the initial meeting between the teams on Dec. 18. “They shot the lights out in the first quarter.”
That early run was a result not only of shooting accuracy (14-for-31), but exellent man-to-man defense, precision passing and a persistent effort on the offensive glass by the state’s No. 12-ranked Class AA team.
“I thought our defense and offensive rebounding set the tone,” said CBA coach Dave Doemel. “We weren’t going to settle for one shot, and we got after it pretty good on defense. It was us saying, ‘This is how we’re going to play you.’ ”
Schenectady (7-6, 7-8) was down in the first quarter, 15-2, when Keishaun Wheelings dropped in a layup with 62 seconds left for its first field goal.
“They played really tough man-to-man. Their kids buy into that,” said Loudis. “We were very lethargic and didn’t run our offense. Our kids were like deer in the headlights. We didn’t run anything.”
Marini scored 10 of his 14 points when CBA was building its 36-13 advantage, Brundige netted nine of his 11 during the stretch, and Greig Stire had nine of his 23.
“Along with the rebounding and defense, our shots were falling,” said Brundige. “Their 3-2 zone is tough to crack. We were getting the ball in seams and making shots.”
Brundige hit a pair of threes early in the opening quarter, and nailed another in the second period. Marini and Stire followed with threes in a 9-0 flurry that made it 33-11.
“Drew has been putting in a lot of extra time trying to get himself squared away,” said Doemel. “We noticed a little mechanical flaw that was holding him back. He’s been working, and he’s been improving. His shooting tonight, that was fantastic.”
Wheeling scored six points in an 8-0 Schenectady run to end the first half, and the Pats were within 11, 42-31, when Towan Hamlin converted a three-point play with 2:54 left in the third. Stire converted a three-point play on CBA’s next trip down.
“Stire has played phenomenal the last few games,” Brundige said of his 6-foot-7 junior teammate, who had 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. “In the second half, we fed him the ball and he did what he does best.”
Cody Shafer’s three-pointer had Schenectady trailing after three quarters, 49-36. The reigning Section II champs began the final quarter with 10 straight points. Nate Robinson’s hook shot and Brundige’s layup off a steal started the string.
“We had a little bit of momentum. If we could have gotten over the 10-point gap, it could have been different,” said Loudis. “They came right back and stuck it to us.”
CBA moved a half game ahead of idle Troy (12-1, 13-2) in the Big 10 title race, and hosts the Flying Horses Tuesday. CBA is expected to have Daniel Owens back after the starting guard missed the last four games with a concussion. Pre-sale tickets for the showdown will be available at both schools Monday.
“This shows us what we’re capable of doing when we play as a team,” said Marini, who had four steals and three of CBA’s 15 assists. “We’ll try to take this into the Troy game and the rest of the season.”
Wheelings led Schenectady with 14 points, and Darius Macon had 11.
Macon 5-1-11, Moses 2-0-4, Shafer 3-1-9, Wheelings 6-2-14, Stanford 1-4-7, Symes 2-0-4, Hamlin 1-1-3, Cyr 1-1-3. Totals: 21-10-55.
Marini 5-2-14, Ramsey 1-2-4, Foglia 1-0-2, Robinson 4-0-8, Burton 1-0-2, Brundige 4-0-11, Corker 1-0-2, Stire 7-8-23, Renauld 3-0-6. Totals: 27-12-72.
Schenectady 6 15 15 19 — 55
CBA 18 18 13 23 — 72
Three-point goals: Shafer 2, Stanford, Marini 2, Brundige 3, Stire.