It’s tough to beat a team three times in a row, especially when the third is on the grand stage of the NSCHSAA Finals.
Headed into Tuesday night’s championship at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University, the basketball squad knew what an uphill battle they would have.
St. Mary’s had already beaten the Flyers in , both by wide margins, Last year it was the reverse, with Chaminade sweeping the regular season series only to be eliminated by the Gaels in the semi-finals.
This year St. Mary’s completed the three-peat, putting away any doubts as they cruised to a 74-43 victory, eerily similar to a , and taking the NSCHSAA trophy and punching their ticket to the state semifinals in Buffalo.
“Chaminade runs a good offense so we wanted to play lock-down defense,” Gael senior guard and game MVP Dante Agnew said, hardware tucked neatly under his arm and a championship tee draped over his shoulder.
“It always feels great when you work hard and it pays off,” St. Mary’s senior center Charles McCann said. “We are celebrating right now but we are going to get back in the gym tomorrow and keep working because last year we didn’t reach our goal” of a state championship.
The Flyers discovered early on that it was going to be a rough night behind the arc with ace shooters Kevin Sheehy, Matt Gonyon and Luke Colombo all missing outside jumpers.
Their efforts in the paint faired similarly due to the unwavering Gael presence.
“(Gaels) Coach (Bill Harkins) knew that if we played a slower-paced game, we would be playing into their hands,” said St. Mary’s senior forward Chavaughn Lewis, who finished with a game-high 26 points. “So we wanted to push the ball and play as fast as we could.”
The word ‘run’ became a theme of the night.
Chaminade’s only lead of the night came in the first quarter, 4-0 before the Gaels got hot, going on a 12-0 run that was sparked by a Lewis 3-pointer to gave the Gaels a 9-6 lead at 4:31.
“We kept our intensity throughout the whole game and played as a team,” Lewis mentioned while noting that the majestic atmosphere had little effect on his team’s nerves or overall approach to the match-up. “We have been battle-tested all season,” he adds, “and we just wanted to come out and play our game.”
The Flyers came out of the locker room fueled up and ready to go in the second half as Gonyon sunk his first trey, followed by one from senior forward James McCaffrey.
Just as it looked as if Chaminade was going on a tear, Lewis started an 8-0 scoring run.
Flyer senior center Rich Zoller broke the Gael hot streak with a one-handed turn-around shot at 3:11 in the third quarter and another basket off an inside pass from Patrick Farrell at 2:46, but St. Mary’s answered back with yet another 9-0 rally.
As the Gaels take the long bus ride up to Canius College, Chaminade will begin to look for the successors to their senior core of Gonyon, Zoller, Sheehy, Chris Kustera and James McCaffrey.
With only a few minutes remaining in the match, Flyer head coach James Quinn put in his bench players, giving them a taste of what they may experience next year as starters.
With Bryan “Primo” Beaubrun earning a 3-point-play off of a pull-up jumper with 53 seconds left, it may be safe to say Chaminade is already looking towards next season.1 2 3 4 F Chaminade 8 9 10 16 43 St. Mary’s 23 13 17 21 74 Chaminade Scoring Statistics Player Position FGs 3PTs FTs Points Assts Rebs James McCaffrey Forward 5 1 3 16 0 0 Richard Zoller Center 4 0 0 8 3 10 Matthew Gonyon Guard 3 1 0 7 0 0 Kevin Sheehy Guard 3 0 0 6 0 3 Bryan Beaubrun Forward 1 0 1 3 0 0 Brendan Ahern Guard 1 0 0 2 0 0 P.J. Barry Guard 0 0 1 1 0 0 Luke Columbo Guard 0 0 0 0 0 7