UNIONDALE, NY - When first year coach Bob Paul took over at Chaminade H.S. this season, he knew he had quite a bit of talent at his disposal. He believed this was a team that could do something in the playoffs, do something special.
The kids believed too, with a core group of 8 seniors, including all 5 starters who won a freshmen title together 3 years ago, they knew that a championship this year was possible, and a championship is what they got after they defeated Holy Trinity 85-64 to win the Nassau/Suffolk CHSAA title.
It's never easy bringing in a new coach into a team who have been so used to playing one way for so long, but after former Chaminade coach Jim Quinn retired after last season change was in the air. The school hired Flyers alum Paul to be the new coach. He changed the system a bit moving away from the half court game the Quinn ran, and more into a full court run and gun style, and early on Paul met with the kids and laid it all on the table.
"I said you have to buy in now or don't be part of it," Paul said.
Those were strong words, but with a group of seniors who were hungry to win a varsity title, they bought in knowing that Paul could lead the way.
It started out a bit rocky early on, but according to senior forward Jon Patterson, they were confident the turnaround would come.
"The transition was harder at the beginning of the year, but we have camaraderie as a group and because of that we were able to pick up the offense and really get it going at the end of the year, and I would much rather be winning now when it matters," Patterson said.
As the team bought in, the wins started to come. They went into the NSCHSAA playoffs as the #4 seed and after beating St. John the Baptist in the quarters they met St. Mary's in the semis and even though they lost to the Gaels twice in the regular season they never lost faith, believing that they could beat the team no one gave them a shot against.
"It's really hard to beat a team 3 times in a year, and we felt we were playing great basketball and didn't want to lose," senior Mike Walsh said.
They didn't lose, dominating the 2nd half to ease past St. Mary's by 14. It was onto the championship to face Holy Trinity.
Against the Titans, both teams came out firing, but it was a 19-2 run in the 2nd quarter that did away Holy Trinity as Chaminade never looked rattled or in trouble the rest of the way, never owing grip of a double digit advantage. The run was made possible according to Paul because of defense.
"After the 1st quarter I told them that if we don't get stops there is no way we can beat these guys because we can't outscored them. We needed to play defense the way I knew we could," Paul said.
They stepped up with the run, and the run not only gave the Flyers a sizable lead, but the belief that they were going to win.
"We picked up momentum in the 2nd quarter and we went into the locker room feeling like the championship was ours," senior guard Liam Murphy said.
Holy Trinity did push the lead down to 11 midway through the 3rd backed by the dynamic play of NSCHSAA Player of the Year Damon Coleman who was able to create turnovers and finish on the offensive end. The hope for the Titans though was short lived as Patterson became a dominant force on the inside to see the Flyers retake full control of the game.
The 4th quarter continued the Chaminade domination as each of the 5 senior starters left their mark on the game in one way or another as the Flyers brought home their 4th NSCHSAA championship since 1995 taking down Holy Trinity 85-64.
Patterson led all scorers with 27 points and 12 rebounds in being named NSCHSAA Tournament MVP. Murphy added 16, with Walsh tacking on 14 in the win. In defeat Coleman paced Holy Trinity with 22 points, while Isaiah Rowe added 19 for the Titans.
The night belonged to Chaminade though with Patterson reveling in the win.
"It's great knowing as a group who has been together for so long that we did it. Winning a freshmen title with the same guys and now doing this a few years later. It really feels incredible," Patterson said.
Though they now have the NSCHSAA title there is more business ahead for the Flyers as they head to Buffalo this weekend to face the winner of the Canisius/Bishop Timon game in Catholic League Class "A" State semifinal on Saturday. While that game is less than 4 days, Paul says thinking about that game can wait.
"I'm going to take some advice from my wife and just enjoy tonight. I'm really happy about tonight and I know from coaching at different levels that this doesn't happen too often so you have to just soak it in. I'm going to enjoy this one with my players, my staff, and my family because it's very special."
Click Here to view this Link.
Click on Nike Pre-Draft Camp banner for more information