For the first time in a long time, Christian Brothers Academy will not have a courtside seat at the Section II Class AA boys’ basketball tournament.
The Brothers can thank Jamil Hood for that. The Green Tech junior poured in a game-high 31 points and made a crucial defensive play in the closing seconds as the Eagles earned their first spot in the championship game with a 64-60 win over the four-time defending champions Thursday at the Times Union Center.
The win also denied the Brothers an 11th straight trip to the finals. During their remarkable 10-year run, they had grabbed the title seven times.
“My hat goes off to CBA. Coach [Dave] Doemel is a great coach, and you can’t take anything away from him,” said Green Tech coach Jamil Hood Sr., whose 16-3 Eagles will play Troy here in Monday’s title game. “But our young men tonight proved that they’re ready to come out here and show the world.”
Troy was a 52-36 winner over Shaker in the other semifinal. Monday’s title contest will follow the girls’ AA final between Bethlehem and Albany, set for 6:30 p.m.
The younger Hood tried to put the win in perspective, while also expressing confidence in his team’s chances in the final.
“We’re a four-year varsity team, so this is pretty big for us,” he said. “I’m pretty confident we can win the championship game.”
Doemel was not taking the Eagles lightly.
“I think everybody knew how good they are,” said Doemel. “Jamil Jr. had a tremendous shooting night. I thought Danny [Owens] defensed him well, but you’ve got to give him credit.”
Hood Jr. scored 18 of his of points in the second half, but it was his defense that figured into the game’s most important play, as he stole the ball from Drew Brundige and went the length of the floor for a lay-up and a 64-60 lead with four seconds to play.
CBA was looking to win or force overtime with a possession in the final 40 seconds and the Eagles up, 62-60.
Green Tech worked hard to deny Owens and Greig Stire — who had combined for 41 of the Brothers’ points — the ball, and the defensive pressure forced Nick Marini into a long shot that bounced off the rim as the shot clock expired. Brundige ran down the rebound near the corner on the weak side, but Hood flashed in, stole the ball and made the basket that sealed his team’s first trip to the big-school title game.
“I said I’m not walking off the court without a win,” said the younger Hood. “They got the ball back, but I had to get it back from them.
“The play was to get it to Stier, that’s what the coaches told us. If he gets the ball, play regular defense and stay calm.”
“We talk about rebounding and defense,” said Hood Sr. “They executed on all levels tonight. We looked at the film and saw that CBA had a little trouble with the pressure, and it took 32 minutes of that. We call it 94 feet of hell.”
“We were trying to get Brundige and Greig to do something, a screen fade, and see if we could get one of them open for a drive or a shot,” said Doemel. “They defensed it pretty well. But when it comes down to executing a final play like that, we have to do a better job.”
Hood and Stire put on a show in the final eight minutes. Hood got 11 in the final quarter, knocking down two more threes. Stire got 10 down the stretch, including a two-handed stuff and resulting foul shot that gave the 18-3 Brothers their final lead of the game, 57-55, with 4:04 remaining.
David Clark converted the second of two straight putbacks, and Hood beat the clock with a three that gave the Eagles a 60-67 lead with 2:35 left.
Stire posted up and picked up another three-point play to tie the game at 60-60, then Jizziah Carr made one of two from the line to put the Eagles back up, 61-60.
CBA got a break when Owens’ was ruled to be tied up on a drive through the lane, allowing the Brothers to maintain possession.
They did nothing on the possession, though, and Ward hit the front end of two from the line to make it 62-60. A CBA miss was rebounded by Clark, but the Eagles were whistled for setting an illegal screen, setting up the closing seconds.
Owens buried three early three-pointers to help the Brothers take a 13-7 lead midway through the first quarter, and Stire worked the inside, drawing three fouls on baseline drives and making all five of the resulting free throws, the last one completing a three-point play.
The Eagles fought back to trail by one, 20-19, at the end of one, as Jafari Coleman came off the bench to score five points. Green Tech took a seven-point lead, 30-23, with 4:10 left in the half.
Hood drained a three from the top of the arc to give Green Tech a 24-20 lead. Najee Ward, Mark West and Hood all followed with baskets to push the Eagles to their biggest lead of the half.
The Brothers hurt themselves with poor free throw shooting in the quarter, missing five of their seven from the line as Green Tech went over the limit 34 seconds into the quarter.
Tyrell Ramsey’s three-point play and a pair of baskets down low by Stire helped CBA close to within
33-30 before Hood and Marini traded baskets for a 35-30 Green Tech lead at the half. Hood had 13 at the break, while Stire had 13.
“There were points in the game where he should have handled the ball better, or made a few foul shots, things that hurt us in games earlier in the year that we were able to get through because maybe we were more talented than the other team,” said Doemel. “It came back to bite us.”
CBA scored the first eight points of the second half, highlighted by a long Owens three. After a Wood basket, Hood took over, beating his man baseline for two baskets and swishing a three to put Green Tech up, 44-40.
“These young men bought into what we’re selling,” said coach Hood. “It’s a dream come true.”
HORSES TAKE OFF
Troy took control of the second game by outscoring the Blue Bison, 17-0, in the third period after spotting Shaker the first basket of the second half that gave the Suburban Council team its last lead, 24-23.
Freshman guard Dyaire Holt sparked the run that resulted in a 40-24 lead after three quarters, scoring half of his team-high 16 points in the third as the Flying Horses ran almost at will. Shaker didn’t score again until David Morrison put in a layup with 5:16 to go in the game.
“They’re bigger and stronger than we are, so we tried to impose our will on them,” said Flying Horses coach Rich Hurley of the deciding eight minutes. “I thought Dyaire Holt was fantastic. Javon [Ogunyemi] and Jerrell Reid got us going. We were just fundamentally sound in that third quarter.
“We got out in transition, that was our goal. I felt we were faster than them. We stuck to our gameplan. I’m very happy to be back in the final.”
GREEN TECH 64, CBA 60
Hood 12-2-31, Carr 0-1-1, West 2-0-4, K. Clark 4-0-8, Burt 1-0-2, Coleman 2-2-6, Ward 2-1-5, McGill 1-0-2, D. Clark 2-0-5. Totals: 26-6-64
Stire 9-8-26, Owens 5-1-15, Marini 1-1-3, Robinson 0-2-2, Brundige 1-0-2, Renauld 1-2-4, Ramsey 2-2-6, Corker 0-2-2. Totals: 19-18-60.
Green Tech 19 16 10 19 — 64
CBA 20 12 13 15 — 60
Three-point goals: Hood 5, D.Clark, Owens 4.
TROY 52, SHAKER 36
Ogunyemi 4-1-9, Nelson 2-0-4, Radz 2-0-6, Holt 6-4-16, Walston 1-0-2, Reid 4-2-11, Testo 1-2-4. Totals: 20-9-52.
Dare 1-0-2, Gorman 1-0-3, Kaurejo 3-2-9, Hoffman 1-0-2, Yakel 1-0-3, Landers 2-0-4, Radzyminski 0-1-1, Morrison 5-2-12. Totals: 14-5-36.
Troy 9 14 17 12 — 52
Shaker 10 12 2 12 — 36
Three-point goals: Reid, Radz 2, Gorman, Kaurejo, Yakel.