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Blue Devils Fall Short of King Championship Title

The Blue Devils of Poly Prep, a dominant private school in the Ivy Prep Basketball League, returned only one starter from last year’s 20-4 team, and posed a threat during the 44th annual Msgr. King Memorial High School Tournament at St. Thomas Aquinas in Flatlands. The Blue Devils from Bay Ridge almost stunned St. Anthony’s of Long Island but the top seeded Friars held them off 6l-53 in a close championship game before a near capacity crowd last Friday evening. Friars’ guard and Columbia University bound Pat Foley was very difficult to stop as he scored 11 field goals, including three three-point shots for 29 points, five more than Poly’s Justin Newton, who actually kept the locals in the game. “Newton is fantastic,” Associate Head Coach Glen McCartney said. But Poly Prep couldn’t find an answer to stop Foley, as he was all over the court. He is as complete a player one would want to have. Down by 11 points with 1:49 into the second quarter, the locals started to battle back going on a 9-2 run, thanks to Newton’s steal, drive, and two more lay-ups for six points. The Blue Devils tied St. Anthony’s twice and never went ahead as they certainly had the support from the crowd, which also included scouts and coaches from the colleges. “It felt great in winning the tournament in our first time being here,” Friars’ head coach Mike Ryan said. “We were happy in what we accomplished. Championship games are supposed to be like the game we played (taking the lead early, and the opponent trying to make a comeback). You’re not to expect a blow out by anybody. It was a fun game to coach and watch.” Meanwhile, the Blue Devils played extremely hard to the very end, but came up a little short. “We love the history of this tournament,” said McCartney. “We come every year. But this is the first time we ever got to the finals. We’re very happy. Our seniors carried us.” “We’ll come back strong later on in the season,” Poly Assistant Coach Jeremy Fink added. “We look forward to the tournament every year and expect to come back next year. It’s a great atmosphere. Newton tried to play the best that he could. “ “We tried to do everything we could to win,” added Newton. The latter, only a sophomore, praised the work put on by Coach Bill McNally. “We put on a great effort but ran into a tough team,” McNally added. “St. Anthony’s is a terrific team, is very well coached and certainly deserved to win it. “As for us, we live and die by the jump shot. We don’t have a true post player….I thought our defense kept us in it. And we rebounded well.” Forward Kevin Kelleher grabbed 14 rebounds, two more than Newton. “A win would have been better,” added junior guard Billy Butler. “We played hard but it didn’t come out right. We have tremendous chemistry right now.” The Blue Devils advanced to the finals for the first time that they competed in their five years of taking part in this tournament. They closed the calendar year with an overall 5-2 record. “We take our games one at a time,” McNally said. “Our strengths are in the backcourt. And we have good, fundamentally sound kids. We play hard.” To reach the finals, Poly Prep turned back St. Francis Prep, 60-48, in the quarter-finals of the eight team tournament and Midwood, 62-58, in a semi-final. In the lower half of the bracket, St. Anthony’s defeated Tilden, 57-34, in the first round, and edged New Utrecht, 48-45 in a semi-final. In consolation games, Midwood, led by all-city candidate Khaleef Allicott’s 18 points, turned back New Utrecht, 62-41, for third place, Tilden edged St. Edmund’s, 53-49, for fifth spot, and St. Francis Prep routed St. John’s Prep, 77-34, for seventh position. “Playing in this tournament gives us good experience and exposure,” said Allicott. “We love playing in this tournament,” New Utrecht coach John Sce added.”It’s the highlight of the year for us.” “It’s a tremendous privilege for us to play in the tournament,” noted Tilden coach ‘Rock’ Eisenberg, “because I live in Marine Park. The last time Tilden came into the tournament was in 1998 and got humiliated on the court….It’s nothing like competing in Brooklyn.” “We had a great tournament, and turnout, and everyone had a good time,” said John Browning, Director of the Tournament. “Now our goal is to get a new floor for next year’s tournament. We hope to do it with a fund-raiser. We had a total attendance of 4000.” “This is a nice (well-organized) tournament,” said Tom Konchalski, who helped in the selection of the teams. “It’s not an elite tournament any longer. It’s competitive and it is held at a nice atmosphere….” In other news at St. Thomas, its travel soccer team for eighth graders has a 7-4 record for third place in the CYO league. Luke Konig is the top scorer with eight goals. Steve Boundaris is the team’s goalie, who is playing excellent. In basketball, the fifth grade team at St. Thomas, led by William Monti and Keeman Williams, is undefeated through six games, in the BCBA. With basketball in high gear in the BCBA, St. Thomas’ Athletic Director Robert Maffia is getting ready for the baseball season by staging indoor clinics for boys and girls on January 7, 14, and 21, and on Feb. 4, 11, and 18, all Saturdays. The sessions for 5 to 7 year old youngsters run from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and for 8 to 14 year old groups from 10:30 to noon The clinic is designed to teach basic skills to children new to baseball while honing skills of the more experienced players and serve to help the youngsters get a jump start to the season. The kids do a lot of offensive and defensive work, and pitching and catching drills. “We’re trying to build baseball back up,” Maffia said. “I started the clinic because I’m trying to generate more interest in baseball. The clinic is open to anyone, not only from St. Thomas.” For further information on the baseball clinics call 718-375-0704.

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