St. Francis tops Bayside at Monsignor King tourney

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Joe Capuana knew he didn’t have the same team as he did a year ago when Lance Hazel and C.J. Okogeri led the Bayside boys’ basketball team to a 24-3 record and the Queens II-A title. But the Commodores’ coach still felt it was important to upgrade his team’s non-league schedule.

Instead of playing cupcakes and padding the record, Capuana actively sought out stiffer competition and found it last Thursday in the form of St. Francis Prep, which easily defeated the Commodores, 69-47, in the first round of the Monsignor King Memorial Tournament at St. Thomas Aquinas in Brooklyn.

“We want to get ourselves ready for the playoffs, and this year we put ourselves in some better tournaments like this one,” Capuana said. “We may not be the same team as last year, but we feel we want to take the next step and to do that you have to play better teams and you’re going to lose some games. It may be a 15-win season instead of a 20-win season, but it’s a season where the competition was better.”

Bayside (7-4) entered the game with impressive credentials, especially after losing by one, 69-68 to PSAL powerhouse Cardozo Dec. 17.

St. Francis Prep (8-0) didn’t take any chances, jumping out to an early double-digit lead thanks to some sharp perimeter shooting by junior point guard Bryan Geffen (16 points) and sophomore guard Mike Marin (10 points).

“The most important thing was getting out to a big lead because some games we come out completely flat and then we have to fight our way up,” said senior center Ryan Losee, who had 15 points. “This game we came out right away and put them away from the beginning, and we didn’t let them back in it. That was important.”

“I didn’t think they were real confident about playing a Catholic High School League team,” added St. Francis Prep coach Tim Leary. “They don’t do it too much and we thought if we got out early on them, that would help us obviously.”

Bayside tried everything to slow the Terriers down. They played box-and-one on Geffen, switched to a 3-2 zone and were then forced to drop back in a man-to-man. But St. Francis Prep, which also got 12 points in the paint from junior forward Andrew Cashin, was relentless.

After dropping its shots from the perimeter, it patiently attacked the man-to-man with its patented half-court set, complete with backdoor cuts and a bevy of screens.

“Our coach said to get them early,” Geffen said. “If we take the life out of them early, they’re not going to have the confidence to come back. We did shoot well in the beginning.”

For Geffen, the win was not only important after the Terriers lost a tough two-point game to Robeson in last year’s first round, but he also had personal satisfaction to defeat good friend Ryan Eisner.

The two friends, standouts in the DePhillips Athletic Club growing up, had a friendly war of words in the weeks leading up to the game. While Eisner also scored 16 points, it was Geffen who got the last laugh.

“I’d rather have won the game, just to shut these guys up,” Eisner said. “It’s a wakeup call, we can’t get nonchalant on the court. We have to play hard at all times, never go into a lapse.”

Bayside 62, Bishop Ford 58. Ryan Leak had 17 points and Eisner added 12 for the Commodores, who led 49-35 after three quarters, in a consolation game Friday at St. Thomas Aquinas. Glenn Martin netted a game-high 18 points for Bishop Ford.

Christ the King 62, Denham Springs (La.) 51. Japhet McNeil had 20 points and eight assists and Mitchell Beauford added 12 points for Christ the King (7-0), which advanced to the semifinals of the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Saturday. Tasmin Mitchell netted a game-high 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for Denham Springs (14-2). The Royals were to face No. 8 Bishop O'Connell (Va.) in the semifinals Sunday night.

Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) 70, Molloy 57. Sundiata Gaines scored 17 points and Ivan Marnika grabbed 11 rebounds for Molloy (4-3) Friday at the Beach Ball Classic. Andrew Pusar led four Pirates in double digit scoring with 16 points. Alex Buzbee posted his second consecutive double-double for Seton Hall Prep (4-0) with 13 points and 11 boards. The Stanners were slated to take on White Station (TN) Monday afternoon in the losers bracket.

Christ the King 67, Calhoun County (SC) 55. Beauford scored 20 points and Japhet McNeil added 19 for Christ the King Friday at the Beach Ball Classic. Calhoun County (6-2) was led by Zambolist Fredrick, one of the nation’s top juniors, who scored 23 of his game-high 31 points in the first half.

Cathedral Prep 65, Flushing 50. Brad Weirzbicki netted 29 points to place Cathedral (6-2) in the Cathedral Prep Holiday Tournament Friday.

Long Island City 53, Wantagh 45. Preston Bell had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Michael Laboy had 12 points, including 6-for-6 from the foul line, Cedric Battle added 10 points and five assists for LIC (9-7), which outscored Wantagh 20-8 in the fourth quarter.

Molloy 67, Don Bosco (N.J.) 53. The backcourt duo of Sundiana Gaines and Marlon Smith combined for 35 points and Otoja Abit added 15 points and 10 boards for Molloy (4-2) in the first round of the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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