The 2002-03 high school basketball season came to a close this past weekend with the annual state Federation tournament held in Glens Falls, N.Y. Four borough teams made the trek northward, with one coming home with the ultimate prize.
The Archbishop Molloy varsity girls basketball team claimed the Class C crown in just its second season on the varsity level. In fact, just four years ago girls werent even allowed to attend the Briarwood school.
Head coach Marty Towey has quickly built one of the elite programs in the city, though it may take him a little while longer to achieve the near cult-figure status of his boys team counterpart, Jack Curran.
Toweys girls finished third in the regular season Brooklyn/Queens standings behind perennial powerhouses Christ the King and St. Francis Prep. But the Stanners named so after the old moniker for the school, St. Anns upset St. Francis Prep in the diocesan tournament and earned the right to be the Class C representative in the CHSAA state tournament.
Led by super sophomore Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Molloy quickly emerged as a legitimate threat, if not to the benchmark of Christ the King, then to just about everyone else. Jessica McEntee, Annamarie Ciorciari, E.J. Dreyer, Keri-Ann Jetter and Jennifer Kelleher were also key cogs for Molloy.
Without a senior on the squad, Molloy rolled to a relatively easy Catholic state championship, which led the team to Glens Falls last weekend. Toweys troops did not waste their first opportunity at winning a Federation crown, besting South Seneca.
Some of his competitors have raised questions as to how Towey was able to cull together such talent in so short a time, but success often does that. What Towey has done at Molloy has been nothing short of remarkable, regardless of his methods and whether or not any of his opposing coaches love him or not.
The teams success this season even led the quantum-talented Gold-Onwude to predict the Stanners would beat Christ the King next year. That lofty goal may not be attainable next year, but you have to aim high if youre going to get anywhere.
The three other teams to head up to Glens Falls were the Christ the King boys and girls teams both of which were playing for the Class A titles and the Cathedral Prep boys team, playing for the Class C crown.
I have no problem admitting that I love the Cathedral Prep team, a squad made up predominantly of kids from my old neighborhood, Maspeth, who play with tenacity and desire every time out. The team revolves around the leading scorer in the CHSAA, Bradd Wierzbicki, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard who looks like he would be blown over by a stiff wind.
Playing in the backcourt with his twin brother Brett, Wierzbicki and Co., featuring standouts Ray Tinneny, Rich Scherne and Kevin McGrath, rolled to the CHSAA Class C city and state crown. They beat Monsignor Scanlan for the former and Archbishop Walsh for the latter to earn their trip to Glens Falls.
Coached by Cardozo High School Assistant Principal Frank McQuail, Cathedral finally met its match in the Federation Class C semifinals, falling to Brooklyn Friends and star Kyle Neptune, 56-50.
Cathedral is a school that gets very little notice in the press, but with two city crowns in the last three seasons and a CHSAA state title under their belt, the Crusaders certainly have put themselves on the map this year, Federation championship or not.
The Christ the King teams ... well, all I can say is that both teams could have and probably should have brought home Federation titles this year.
Both lost, the boys to Lincoln and the girls to Murry Bergtraum, and in both games a case can be made that the Royals should have come away with victories.
The boys had a four-point lead late against a Lincoln team playing without star Sebastian Telfair, who fouled out midway through the fourth. But good clock management by Lincoln coupled with poor free throw shooting by CK forced the overtime, and the rest is history.
Some might see it as justice, citing the fact that the CK boys advanced to the state Federation Tournament thanks to a new system in the CHSAA state tourney that basically enabled the team to play St. Raymonds, the CHSAA city champs, twice in a week for the right to advance.
Still, I cant help but feel for the CK kids, a good group of guys and players. Some, like Japhet McNeil, Micthell Beauford, Justin Marshall and Brian Williams, will move on to college. Some, most notably sophomore Chris Martin, will be back next season and will no doubt have CK back in the mix.
The CK girls, well, what can you say? This is the third straight year the one-time mortal lock for a Federation title has come home empty-handed from Glens Falls, all three years ending with losses to Bergtraum.
This year was a little different. CK rallied late to get within two before Maryland-bound Shay Doron fired a three with no time left that would have won the game. The shot missed the mark, but Doron seemed to have been fouled. There was no call and Bergtraum had itself another title.
Both teams, which supported each other at the state tournament in a nowadays rare display of school spirit, will have to rest their laurels on the two state CHSAA titles, which isnt too shabby either.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2003 Community News Group
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