GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – So, let’s take inventory of which New York squads had a pretty good weekend:
* There was Syracuse University, which won two rounds of NCAA Tournament games minus its injured shot-swatting big man.
* There was Cornell University, which became the first Ivy League school to make the NCAA Sweet 16 since 1979.
But those developments were actually somewhat predictable. The Orange, after all, are a recent national champion with a wealth of talent and great balance. And the Big Red chewed up conference competition, scored some quality non-league wins and nearly stunned the Jayhawks at Kansas.
And then there’s Christian Brothers Academy (Albany), which had won 110 of its previous 119 games leading up to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association final four in Glens Falls – and was given no chance of winning the title.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation of Newburgh Free Academy. CBA took out the Goldbacks – defending champs with five returning starters plus a transfer student who has a Division I scholarship lined up – on Saturday with a shockingly easy 60-41 victory.
"It made everybody believe we could do this," senior guard Josh Dennis said Sunday afternoon on the floor of the Glens Falls Civic Center. "All of us used to come up here and watch state championships when we were younger. It was our dream to play here. We came here and it was surreal. I think we felt we were in over our heads for a little while but we came in and had a great game against the team that won last year. That gave us hope."
And where there is hope there is potential for greatness, even if the Brothers were facing a final against Half Hollow Hills West, ranked No. 1 in the state and featuring star Tobias Harris, who’ll play for the University of Tennessee next season.
So what happened?
"I know it's a cliché," CBA coach Dave Doemel said, "but I can't put it into words."
That’s OK, because CBA’s actions spoke volumes.
Junior Galal Cancer scored 19 points, senior Kam Ritter added 17 and the Brothers got help from a Colts team the imploded under a barrage of foul calls. The result was a 71-53 victory that gave CBA the championship and a spot in next weekend’s Federation tournament in Glens Falls.
CBA (24-1) also got 15 points from Max Weaver and 11 rebounds from Cancer that contributed to a 49-28 advantage on the boards
"If you looked at us all year, nobody's worried about who steps up; in fact, everybody looks for everybody to step up at different times of the game," Doemel said. "They don't care who scores. That's been a key to our success, unselfishness, and they don't care who scores."
HHHW’s Harris was called for his third foul 29 seconds before halftime while his brother Tyler Harris was already on the bench with three fouls.
Then, with the Colts down 41-29 in the third quarter, Tobias Harris drew his fourth foul while trying for a steal near midcourt. He proceeded to take a short lap with the ball in his grasp, leaped into the air in front of the scorers table and collapsed to the floor in a mini-tantrum. The ensuing technical foul also served as the fifth personal for the state’s 2010 Mr. Basketball award recipient.
It ended his day with eight points, eight rebounds and six assists and started a parade of disqualifications as Tyler Harris, Emile Blackman and Chris Cox subsequently fouled out while the Brothers were outscoring HHHW 26-24 in the fourth quarter. Tavon Sledge (33 points, including all 10 in the third quarter) finished with four fouls, the Colts were called for 30 altogether to the Brothers’ 14, and CBA went 29-for-35 from the free-throw line.
It added up to the Colts’ first loss on the court. The other blemish on their record was the result of a forfeit for the use of an ineligible player in a blowout victory.
"That was unfortunate for them," Dennis said of Harris’ meltdown. "When you’re up here at the state championship you’re going to get emotional, but you’ve got to hold it in".
With the victory, CBA will play CHSAA champion Christ the King on Saturday. The winner advances to meet PSAL champion Boys & Girls the following afternoon for the Federation championship.
Sunday’s other NYSPHSAA finals
* The Jamesville-DeWitt boys beat Newark for their third straight third straight Class A championship. Sophomore DaJuan Coleman scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to follow-up his double-double in the previous day’s semifinals.
J-D will play Bedford Academy in the Federation semifinals. The winner will meet Buffalo Nichols or Long Island Lutheran.
* Oliva Suhr’s one-handed runner from the baseline a second before the buzzer swished through the basket as the Marion girls beat Tioga 56-54 for their first championship in Class C. The Black Knights had wasted a 13-point third-quarter lead and found themselves trailing 52-49 with 3:46 to go. Suhe finished with 20 points.
* Senior Andrea Lictus piled up 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals for the Clymer girls in a 49-35 victory over Harrisville for the Class D championship. Clymer raced to leads of 14-5 and 24-9 after the first two quarters at Hudson Valley Community College.
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com.