BRONX, NY - Holy Trinity had to go through a couple of tough games in the NSCHSAA playoffs on Long Island to just get to Saturday's CHSAA Class "A" State Championship Game at Fordham University. They had to comeback against Kellenberg with a late 4th quarter run, and then it was a 2 point win for the Long Island title over St. Mary's, but against Xavier in the State title game, the Titans had an easier time of it, going on a 26-5 run in the 2nd half to cruise past the Knights, 61-39.
It truly was not easy at all for the Titans to even get to this game. They lost their last two games of the regular season, and at that point, the team's confidence was in question, but they responded by beating the two teams they fell to in the playoffs to get to this point, something that made Holy Trinity head coach Joe Conefry proud regardless of what happened in this one.
"That is what it's about to coach," Conefry said. "We were shaken a bit for sure, but to come back and defeat both the teams we lost to shows a lot about us, and we haven't lost since either."
They seemed to have the confidence back that they had to start the season when they began 11-0, but Conefry said he knew that Xavier was a very good team who would test them.
They were tested in the early going as Ryan Kennedy got Xavier started strong by knocking down a pair of three balls, and scoring the teams first 8 points to get them out to an 8-3 lead.
Jimmy Golaszewski, Holy Trinity's junior wing, finally got the Titans going with a nice finish plus the foul inside, but senior Knights guard Kevin Crockett scored on a scoop in the lane late in the quarter to give Xavier a 16-13 lead.
Golaszewski knocked down a corner three to start the 2nd as both teams were feeling it from long range. Jack Sixsmith and Brandon Thomson each hit threes in the 2nd for Trinity, as they took their first lead of the game with 5:34 to go in the half. Liam Monaghan scored 4 in a row to put Xavier back on top, but Sixsmith and Golaszewski each finished going to the basket late to give Holy Trinity a 28-25 lead at the half.
At the half forward Bradley Eugene said the team knew they could score, but defense was key, he said that the team wanted to be more aggressive, and get back to playing Holy Trinity basketball.
Those words came to reality as the Titans started the 3rd on an 11-0 run to build up a 39-25 lead. The Xavier three balls that were falling early on, were being contested with right pressure defense by Holy Trinity, with Kennedy, Crockett, and Monaghan going 0 for 8 in the 3rd from behind the arc. Eugene became a weapon on the inside for the Titans as well, as he gave the team the extra push they needed, outscoring Xavier 21-5 in the 3rd to take a commanding lead into the 4th.
It all was pretty much sealed up, as Eugene scored 6 straight, and senior guard Mike Farella knocked home a trey from the left wing as the Titans took their largest lead at 59-33 with just over 3 minutes to go.
The Holy Trinity fans rose in celebration as Conefry took his starters out at that point. Soon after, the Xavier fans rose to celebrate the H.S. career of Crockett, who closed out his 4 years at Xavier as one of the schools all time great, but on this day, it was Holy Trinity who overpowered the Knights late, as the coasted home for the 61-39 victory.
Golaszewski and Farella each had 13 points to lead Holy Trinity, while Eugene added 10 points and 12 rebounds, with 8 points and 9 rebounds of those coming in the 2nd half.
Kennedy, Monaghan, and Crockett all had 11 points to pace Xavier, though they did get a fantastic effort from senior forward Jason Pretto who had 6 points and 17 rebounds.
It's the first CHSAA State Championship for Holy Trinity since 1980, and Conefry said just looking behind him after the game, he could tell how much it meant to the school.
"We have so many people who care about the team," the coach said. "So many of the people who work at the school are here, and so many students are here, it means a lot and is very special.
The Titans now make the trek next week up to Albany to play in the Federation Tournament, where in the semifinals they will meet the PSAL Class "A" winner, and with a NSCHSAA championship, and now a CHSAA State championship under their belts, Golaszewaki says why not try and make it 3 for 3.
"I cannot even put this feeling into words. We will go upstate and hopefully play the same way we have as of late, and hopefully come home with a Federation title."
Regis Advance Over St. Mary's (Buffalo) 56-50
After a rough first half where they were trailing 26-23, Regis came out more aggressive and pumped the ball inside to junior forward Mike Cerone, who finished with a game high 16 points and 18 rebounds to help the Raiders win their first CHSAA Class "B" State title since 2005 as they were able to hold off the Lancers by 6.
"Our big man was great, and when he is on we are at our best," Regis coach Kevin Cullen said.
He dominated physically against the smaller St. Mary's squad in the 2nd half, wearing them down, and taking over late, knowing that if he did his job, a state championship would be there's.
"I just felt I could be a big presence in the paint, and I was lucky to be able to play well on the inside today,"
Cerone closed the game out going 5 of 6 from the FT line in the closing minutes, while junior Charles Gavigian was also key down the stretch to give Regis the win.
Regis was led by Cerone's 16 and 18, with Gavigian adding 15 points as well in the win.
In defeat, the Lancers were paced by the 13 points and 12 rebounds of senior forward Tyler English, with senior guard Dione Strong chipping in with 12 as well.
Regis now advances to the Class "B" Federation Tournament where in the semifinals on Saturday they will meet Brooklyn Community Arts and Media of the PSAL.