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Holy Cross drops B/Q title game to Xaverian

But the Queens team would be unable...

By Anthony Bosco

When Joe Marino nailed a three-pointer with 3:06 remaining in the second quarter, the Holy Cross Knights took a 10-point lead over the Xaverian Clippers in the finals of the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan tournament.

But the Queens team would be unable to hold that lead, allowing Xaverian to pull within four by halftime and eventually take over the game in the second half en route to a 62-57 win and a No. 1 seed.

The win also earned the Clippers a No. 1 seed in the citywide playoffs, which might not have been a blessing for the Brooklyn squad.

“It was a great high school game,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary of the game played Friday night at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. “The crowd was great. It was a great atmosphere to play in. I think we all enjoyed being a part of it.”

With fans packing the Remsen Street gymnasium, the two teams displayed decidedly different styles in the opening half, with the Knights relying on pinpoint long-range shooting and the Clippers pounding the ball inside.

After 6-foot-8 sophomore center Chris Taft scored to put the Clippers up 14-13 with 1:07 remaining in the first, Cross responded with a three by Miguel Gonzalez to retake the lead. A fastbreak basket scored by Adam Frederic moments later gave Cross a four-point lead after one.

Senior point guard Chris Alesi scored to open the second quarter for Xaverian, but back-to-back threes by Chris Fileti and Gonzalez stretched the Knights’ lead to eight, 24-16. Following another Taft basket at 6:13, Gonzalez connected again from beyond the arc, pushing the lead to nine.

Cross’ advantage reached double-digits when Marino’s three made it a 10-point game. After two made free throws by Xaverian’s Lou Karis, Marino scored again, but that would be the last time Cross had a double-digit lead.

Down the stretch of the second quarter Xaverian outscored the Knights 7-1 to pull within four at the break, 35-31. The Clippers kept the momentum in the third quarter, pulling within one three minutes into the half on Shaun Wynn’s layup. Another Marino three gave Cross a little breathing room, but the Clippers answered with a basket by Alesi, two free throws by Taft and Wynn to put Xaverian up 43-41. A last-second basket by Shamar Green gave the Clippers the lead going into the fourth quarter.

“I thought, especially in the third quarter, that our offense got a little stagnant and we stopped moving,” Gilvary said. “We kind of just stayed in spots. Against a good man-to-man defense, you’re not going to get a lot of good looks.”

Cross started the fourth quarter scoring six straight points to retake the lead, but Taft tied it with consecutive buckets. After the teams traded baskets twice, Alesi put his squad ahead for good, scoring twice in less than 20 seconds.

Cross simply could not connect when it counted, with both Michael Howell and Fileti failing to hit threes in the final minute.

Marino led the Knights, now 19-8, with 17 points, while Taft was the high man for Xaverian with 18 points and 16 rebounds. The Clippers are now 20-7.

Holy Cross advanced to the finals with a dominant 68-49 win over Christ the King last week, while Xaverian upset Archbishop Molloy, 78-58.

The win moves Xaverian to the CHSAA quarters and a Thursday date with the Bishop Loughlin Lions — winners over St. Peter’s — while Cross was slated to play St. Francis Prep, upset winners over Rice, Wednesday.

St. Francis Prep 70, Rice 63. The Terriers (10-6) upset the Raiders in the first round of the CHSAA intersectionals, coming back from a 15-point third quarter deficit, mostly without the services of star Rashad Bell. Bell, who finished with 28 points, fouled out early in the fourth after nailing a three that finally gave Prep the lead, but it was Kevin White and Joe Visco who did the damage late, combining to hit 12-of-14 free throws. White had 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Keydren Clark led Rice (13-12) with 26.

Christ the King 50, Monsignor McClancy 49 (OT). Robert Barrett had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Japhet McNeil scored 10 to lead the Royals (17-9) past the Crusaders (10-16) in the first round. McClancy was led by Kevin Bishop’s 19. The Royals will face St. Raymond’s in the quarterfinals Thursday.

Archbishop Molloy 74, LaSalle 42. John Sikiric led Molloy, which opened the game on a 14-0 run, with 17 points, while Wendell Gibson added 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Stanners (18-9) were scheduled to play All Hollows Wednesday.

Cathedral Prep 58, St. Agnes 57. The Crusaders advanced to the CHSAA ‘C’ championship Saturday with a one-point win over St. Agnes. Chris O’Connor nailed two free throws in the final seconds to secure the win after Cathedral had given away a 15-point halftime lead. Tom Czaplinski led the way with 24 points for the Crusaders (21-5).

Cathedral will play Regis in the finals Friday night at Iona Prep at 6:30 p.m. This is the second consecutive year Cathedral has made it to the championship game. Last year the Crusaders lost to Moore Catholic.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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