Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brothers knock off Cadets in AA title game

The Section II Class AA boys basketball semifinal round was nearly perfect. In the opening game, Shenendehowa and Christian Brothers Academy needed an overtime period after each team traded shots in the final 10 seconds of regulation.
The Brothers, however, held out in the extra frame to advance to their seventh consecutive Section II large school title game.

In the second semifinal, between defending state champion Bishop Maginn and the No. 2 team in the state, Albany Academy, the Cadets shocked the Griffins when Academy point guard Jimmer Bennett made the game-winning layin after a bomb of a cross-court pass with six seconds to go in the overtime period.

Should the Maginn-Academy semifinal have been the title game? The Griffins proved themselves to be the best team in the Big 10, compiling a second consecutive 16-0 regular season. The Cadets played a quality non-league schedule and picked up impressive non-league victories over teams like Newburgh Free Academy, making them one of the most attractive teams in the state.

It was the matchup we all wanted to see - Maginn vs. Academy - all of that potential Division I talent clashing on the same floor - but it never came to pass. And in the process, we were reminded what makes high school sports so great in the first place.

This CBA team wasn't supposed to be here, not after Malcolm Austin and DeAndre Kennedy-Ebron had graduated. Not with Bishop Maginn and Albany Academy trotting out high profile college talent.
But the Brothers had some experience returning with Kameron Ritter and Andy Stire.
CBA head coach Dave Doemel also convinced Don Wilson, who had played JV basketball at CBA, but was focusing more on football this year, to come out for the basketball team when he got done on the gridiron. Doemel envisioned him as a practice player that could help the Brothers get better between games.

Well, Wilson entered the starting lineup when Billy Creighton went down with a broken hand and he scored the first four points of Tuesday's game - something that Ritter told me after the game helped soothe the younger players nerves, especially on a big court, playing against such a highly-touted Academy team.

Creighton still attends practice each and every day to rally the troops and Doemel also brought his big first baseman Chris Sand into the mix when the Brothers realized their numbers would be low this year. Sand has helped the team out in practice and he has provided a great leadership spark to the team that isn't realized in any boxscore or just by watching the games.
Add in all the contributions from the youngsters - sophomores Max Weaver and Galal Cancer and freshmen Joe Krong and Chaz Lott - and it is easy to see why the Brothers have remained a constant on the Section II basketball scene.

Year after year, the Brothers build themselves around the team concept - and it always works. In Tuesday's game, Andy Stire popped jumpshot after jumpshot on the baseline, not because that is his game, but because that's what the Academy defense was making a sacrifice to allow - focusing on containing players like Ritter and Cancer slashing to the basket.

The strategy might not reflect in the number of state championships won or even the number of Section II titles taken home to Airline Drive, but there is a reason the Brothers have been to seven consecutive Section II title games - sure, they have had plenty of talent, but the CBA way works.

"They're great kids," Doemel said. "They're very disciplined and they don't mind sharing. They envision the team win as the most important thing."

Christian Brother Academy's Andrew Stire heads to the hoop while being defended by Albany Academy's Chris Pelcher (r) and Jimmer Bennett (12). Stire scored 17 points in CBA's 62-49 victory over the Cadets in Tuesday's Section II Class AA title game, earning Class AA tournament MVP honors. (All photos in this post by Tom Killips - The Record)

CBA players celebrate Tuesday's victory over Albany Academy, the No. 2 ranked team in the state. Kameron Ritter (24) scored 14 points in the game and was also an All-Tournament selection.

CBA head coach Dave Doemel pumps his fist during Tuesday's title game. The architect of the CBA dynasty this decade, Doemel has led the Brothers to seven consecutive Section II large-school championship contests, winning four of them.

CBA's Kameron Ritter (24) is defended by Albany Academy point guard Jimmer Bennett. Ritter, a junior, is one of the holdovers from the 2007-08 squad which finished runner-up to eventual state champion Bishop Maginn.

CBA sophomore guard Galal Cancer floats towards the basket. Just as he did in his varsity debut against Guilderland in last season's Columbia Christmas Tournament, Cancer was clutch at the free throw stripe in the game's final moments. He made eight free throws in the second half en route to 11 total points to protect the Brothers' lead.

CBA's Josh Dennis flings a hook shot towards the rim while being defended by Albany Academy's Tyler Foster. Dennis hit a pair of third quarter three-pointers to give the Brothers an insurmountable lead.

CBA will face the winner of Friday's regional semifinal between Section III's CBA-Syracuse and Section X's Massena in a regional final on Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

The Maple Hill boys play Seton Catholic, the Section VII champion, in a Class C regional semifinal at Hudson Valley Community College on Friday night at 7 p.m. Look for plenty more on the Wildcats here and in The Record during the next few days.

Final 2008-09 Section II boys basketball postseason brackets

Hoosic Valley head coach Watlter Dorman and the rest of the girls basketball team from Schaghticoke celebrates after defeating Maple Hill, 43-28, in Monday's Section II Class CC/C playoff. The Indians will advance to regional play for the fourth consecutive season.

It is too bad I didn't have a time machine on Monday night, because I would have loved to cover this game as well. I was having a ball, however, watching the Maple Hill boys defeat Canajoharie in the boys CC/C playoff in Glens Falls at the same exact time.

The Hoosic Valley defense, as always, was spectacular. Carolyn Houston and Samantha Anderson managed to score 25 points on the other end and off the Indians go to yet another round of regional playoffs.

Maple Hill head coach Mark Bubniak instructs his team during a timeout in Monday's game at Hudson Valley Community College. For the second consecutive season, the Wildcats fell in the Section II Class CC/C playoff game.

The Wildcats return nearly all of their players next year, although they will need to find a replacement for Alyssa Filkins, who always did a great job as Maple Hill's lockdown defender.

An absolutely wonderful season for basketball in Castleton, however, as the boys and girls Wildcats teams, heading into the boys' Friday night game, are a combined 45-3, including a pair of Patroon Conference and Section II titles.

Watervliet's Tierney McGlynn (above) was named the Section II Class B tournament MVP after leading the No. 1 seed Lady Cannoneers to the title.

The Watervliet (17-6) girls face Section X champion Potsdam (15-8) in a Class B regional semifinal on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College.

You better believe that the Lady Cannoneers are looking forward to the hometown crowd across the river in Troy on Wednesday night, especially after last season's adventures in the North Country.

Final 2008-09 Section II girls basketball postseason brackets

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