As the field narrows, the competition intensifies. Wednesday's semifinals of the CHSAA B/Q Diocesan Tournament featured two Brooklyn teams against two Queens.
When the dust settled, two Queens, NY teams remained standing. The games were held at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, NY.
Holy Cross Advances Over Xaverian, 62-60
The game began as an old fashioned shoot-out. Evan Conti (15 points) , of the Holy Cross Knights, came out blazing and nailed a pair of three-balls. The Xaverian Clippers countered as sharpshooter Brian Bernardi (14 points) weaved between Conti's treys with strong drives to the rim.
The Clippers wanted to exploit a half court offense while the Knights sought to set up their perimeter shooters. Missed shots by the Clippers set up transition baskets by Marquise Moore (12 points) and with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter, Holy Cross enjoyed an 11-4 lead. Xaverian narrowed the gap during the latter half of the quarter as Manny Thomas (14 points) and Greg Civiletti (10 points) sparked a 9-4 run, cutting the Knight lead to 2 points. A foul by Thomas on Will Davis (13 points) with 5.1 seconds would put the Knights on the line to up their lead to 17-13.
Xaverian would remain close at the top of the second quarter and with 6:30 left in the half, Civiletti tied the game at 17, Holy Cross would regain the lead Travis Gill (11 points) would keep the Clippers in the hunt and a dunk by Thomas as the half closed out left the Clipper only down 29-28.
A basket at the beginning of the third quarter, Gill would give Xaverian a brief lead on two occasions but Davis, Marcus Hopper (11 points) and Conti put together an 11-2 that bumped the Knight up 46-37 to start the final quarter.
Gill provided some offensive momentum and a dunk Thomas capped off a 5-0 run that pulled the Clippers to within 4 points of the lead but treys by Anthony Libroia (6 points) put Holy Cross back up 57-50 with 3:30 left to play.
The Clippers would not go down without a fight. A Bernardi three-pointer with 45 seconds left and suddenly the Clippers were only down, 60-59. 30 seconds remained and Hopper kept Holy Cross ahead with a tip-in. With 10 ticks left, Conti would run out the clock, doing a good job of keep away.
Christ the King Runs Down Bishop Loughlin, 72-46
The CTK Royals made short work of a young but feisty Loughlin Lions team, turning them into the cubs. Pouncing on the Lions from the opening tip-off, baskets by PG Corey Edwards (6 points) and T.J. Curry (11 points, 4 assists) plus threes by Omar Calhoun (28 points, 5 rebounds) and Terrell Hunt (8 points, 9 rebounds left the Loughlin in a 10-zip hole before they knew what hit them. The Lions would snap out of it Daijan Palmer (6 points) willed in a basket but dunks by Chris Ortiz (4 points, 3 rebounds) would reapply the Royals pressure. Travis Charles (12 points) and Khadeem Carrington (7 points) would begin to gain their offensive footing but would still be in a 14-9 deficit going into the second quarter.
Davonte Dunham would make his debut after missing the first round game due to an injury but the sharpshooter did not have much of an impact. Joel Angus (6 points), however, did make an impact as the Lions tried to cut into the Royals lead. An up-tempo pace seemed to benefit Loughlin and with 4:40 left in the half as basket by Charles reduced CTK's lead to 19-17. As the half closed out, a dunk and a 3-ball by Calhoun jumpstarted a 12-0 Royals run that was capped off at the buzzer by a score by Jordan Fuchs (9 points, 10 rebounds).
Ahead 35-21 to start the third, another try by Calhoun extended Christ the King's lead to 17 points early. Bishop Loughlin would cut the lead to 12 point going in the fourth quarter. The Royals put the finishing touches on the Lions and subbed out with 2 minutes left to play and up by 24 points. They would ultimately win by 26 points.
The winning coaches spoke after the games about playing each other in the finals. Holy Cross head coach Paul Gilvary kept his cards close to the vest saying, "They're a very good team and they don't have any weaknesses that I can see. They're deep, they're athletic and they're well coached. We had two good games during the season. Both of them came down to the last few possessions and Christ the King made the plays to win and we didn't. What I'm hoping is that we get into the same kind of situation and hopefully this time we'll make the plays to win."
Royals head coach Joe Arbitello was happy with the team effort, especially on the defensive end. "The one thing that we stressed today was that Chris, Terrell and Jordan came to play and they were outstanding." Arbitello says that the team's improvement over the last 9 games is based on the increase in defensive intensity. "Holding varsity basketball teams under 50 points, you're gonna win," said Arbitello. As far as playing Holy Cross, Arbitello said, "We have to be physical against Marcus Hopper who's playing well and Evan Conti has made it very very clear that he hasn't beat us in three years so you know he's coming to play. I think that the key to the game is to keep Conti under control and to keep Hopper under control and Will Davis too. We have to pressure their guards and dictate how they're going to play."
The Championship will take place on Friday 2/25 at Christ the King HS