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There’s an old sports adage that says “It’s hard to beat a good team three times.” Cathedral Prep proved that adage true Friday, beating Regis — winners of the teams’ two previous games this season — 69-52 to capture the CHSAA ‘C’ championship Friday night at Iona College and ending Regis’ 17-game winning streak.

Regis (22-3) beat the Crusaders 61-50 and 74-57 during the regular season, but it did not get Cathedral (22-5) at its best the second time around, as Jim Dilg’s club was without seniors Chris O’Connor and Tom Czaplinski.

“After playing them twice, what we wanted to do was make it an up-tempo game,” Dilg said. “On the halfcourt I didn’t know if we could beat them. If we tried to play that style, we’d be playing more like the way they like to play. We wanted to run as much as we could.”

The teams’ contrasting styles made for an outstanding first half of action, one that saw both teams shoot well above 50 percent from the field and from long-range.

The Crusaders took a 35-34 lead into the locker rooms at halftime, despite 13 first half points from Regis’ Steve Quinn.

“We were walking off at halftime and someone said it was the best half of basketball they’d seen all year,” Dilg said. “It was a very highly-skilled type of game. We were pressing them full-court, we were hitting, they were hitting.”

Regis started to take command in the third, scoring the first nine points of the quarter to go ahead 43-35. Cathedral inched its way back into the game and trailed by just two heading into the fourth, 46-44.

But after Ryan Fritzmaurice scored on a layup seconds into the fourth quarter to give Regis a four-point edge, the game completely changed. Regis never hit another field goal, missing its final 11 shots, and scored just six points total in the quarter.

Cathedral, on the other hand, continued to hit from all angles, scoring 25 points and closing the game on a 15-2 run en route to the double-digit victory.

“It was great,” said Dilg, whose team lost by three in the finals last year to Moore Catholic. “The kids worked hard all year. Our goal was to get back to it. We accomplished the goal and we came out on top. It’s a great feeling.

“I think the pace of the game had gone our way and in the last quarter,” the coach added. “We did a better job on Quinn. Their shots started missing and we were able to make some shots. When we got the lead they started fouling. We made our free throws and we didn’t turn the ball over.”

Cathedral was led by tournament MVP O’Connor, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, Czaplinski had 19 and was named to the all-tournament team and Vin LaPuma added 10 points, four assists and three steals.

Cathedral will play Canisius (Buffalo) Saturday at Binghamton High School for the state CHSAA Class C championship. The winner qualifies for the State Federation Tournament at Glen Falls.

“I don’t know anything about them,” Dilg said. “Everybody seems to say they’re a pretty good team. I hate that. I want to know the team so we can work on things.”

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

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