Saturday, March 5, 2016

High School basketball: Christian Brothers Academy (Syracuse) vs. Troy High @ Hudson Valley Community College, 3/5/16

It's funny how things work.

In New York's Section 2, Christian Brothers Academy, based out of Colonie, is a Class AA school, and was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the AA tournament last week.

Section 3, in Western New York, has a CBA, too, but this band of Brothers is a Class A school, and fell in last year's tournament to eventual state champion Scotia. Today, the Syracuse-based Brothers came to Section 2 country, particularly Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, to take on Section 2 Class A champion Troy High.

Coach Richard Hurley's Flying Horses had a week off after beating cross-town foe Lansingburgh, and early on, it certainly seemed as though that might've been too much time off. Admittedly, they looked a little flat as CBA ran out to an early lead, and tried to solve the Brothers' smothering defensive press. On defense, Troy kept leaving CBA's Charles Pride open, and had he been completely on point all day, it would've been a different story. I lost track of how many points Pride had by the end of the game. In the second half, Troy came out with renewed energy and sense of purpose. They were down by just 1 at the break, and took the lead during the 3rd quarter.

Under a minute to go in regulation, and Troy up by 3, Pride spotted up and tied the game with a 3-point basket to send the game into overtime. He must've kissed an angel good morning to start the day. In overtime, CBA coach Buddy Wieklinski rolled the dice and kept senior Nick Aversa in the game despite 4 fouls. Less than a minute into the extra frame, Aversa fouled out. Under a minute to go, it looked like deja vu, except it was another senior, Matt Purcell, spotting up for 3. Ryan Carmello fouled Purcell, sending him to the line for 3 shots. Again, Troy was up 3, and the fans were holding their collective breath. Purcell sank the first free throw to trim the lead to 2. A glance at the clock showed 10 seconds left in the period. Purcell's 2nd shot clanked off the rim. Time out called. Purcell sank the 3rd free throw. Troy sophomore star Daniel Buie was fouled two seconds later, and sank two free throws to potentially put the game away. Now, it was Troy's turn to apply the defensive pressure, and the Brothers couldn't get a shot off in time. Troy survives, 54-51, in overtime.

For Troy, it's back to the Glens Falls Civic Center, where they won the A title 8 days ago, for the state semi-finals next Saturday. For CBA, it's back to the drawing board. For the 3rd straight season, their quest for a state title fell short at the hands of a Section 2 team. On the plus side for CBA, Pride will return, as he's a sophomore himself, the only underclassman on the team, just like Troy's Daniel Buie. We could see these two tangle again in the next two years.

Insofar as I know, Troy has never won a state or Federation title in boys' basketball. That could all change in the next two weeks. The Federation Tournament of Champions takes place at Albany's Times Union Center on Palm Sunday weekend. Should Troy get that far, it truly will be a season for the ages.

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