This weekend's giant basketball upsets weren't limited to just the NCAA Tournament.
It was a bad weekend for Goliaths at the high school level as well.
Let's compare Dix Hills (N.Y.) Half Hollow Hills West to Kansas and Newburgh (N.Y.) Free Academy to Villanova.
While its unknown if the personnel of Albany (N.Y.) Christian Brothers Academy was watching the NCAA Tournament over the last few days, they certainly followed in the upset footsteps of Northern Iowa and St. Mary's.
After sending defending state champ Newburgh packing in the state semifinals on Saturday, CBA continued to display its knack for putting high flying teams into the slow lane. On Sunday, it sent the higher profile and No. 24 Half Hollow Hills West Colts the way of the Dodo Bird, in a 71-53 steamrolling for the state title.
For the second game in a row, CBA proved that defense wins championships, and head coach Dave Doemel had a plan to subdue the mighty Colts.
"Anyone who's seen us know we play a lot of man to man", Doemel said. "But that zone is always in our back pocket for when we play teams that are much bigger than us."
Clearly overmatched in the paint, CBA's menacing match-up zone slammed the brakes on Hills West, and in conjunction with a slower pace and a half court offense that favored them, Long Island's public school champs had issues from the opening tip. After 32 minutes, CBA exited Glens Falls with its first ever Class AA state championship.
Hills West managed to hang even early on, but when Tobias Harris and Tyler Harris grabbed two fouls each in the first quarter, the Colts were hit with an early omen.
CBA's zone dared the Colts to shoot, but the LI team's 2-of-19 showing from behind the arc for the game exemplified its lack of good fortune from outside. Treys aside, Hills West didn't get many good shots from anywhere on the floor, and as time elapsed, its plight got worse.
Point guard Tavon Sledge managed to give Hills West a glimmer of hope with the open court transition buckets and speed that he's known for, but despite the Colts' obvious height advantage, CBA's ability to get third and fourth offensive rebounds enabled them to build a six point lead by the middle of the second quarter, 25-19.
"That was premium for us", Doemel said. "Having trailers to follow up those missed shots and (our ability to) box out were big. I stressed to the kids in the (pre-game) meeting that we have to box out."
With the momentum swinging in CBA's favor -albeit Hills West being very much in striking range - Hills West head coach Bill Mitaritonna inserted Tobias Harris for a quick burst of offense with the half winding down. But the wheels on the Hills West express were falling off one by one, and the gamble on offense cost Harris his third foul on a charge 40 seconds before halftime.
"The fact that we took charges and got our hands in those passing lanes really helped us too," Doemel said.
Things only got worse for the Colts in the second half, as 6-4 senior guard Kameron Ritter and point guard Galal Cancer keyed an 11-0 run that kept CBA out front. The former's pull-up gave it a 31-21 edge and its first double digit lead of the game. The latter's 3-pointer knocked more air out of the Colts, increasing CBA's lead to fifteen, 36-21.
On the other end of the floor, CBA's pesky collapsing zone continued to bring grief to Tobias Harris, as the Tennessee-bound senior never touched the ball in the third quarter. But considering the fact that he never saw action in the fourth quarter, it didn't matter much.
Hills West turned on the full court press, and with 1:10 left in the third, Tobias Harris nabbed his fourth foul while executing it. The violation didn't eliminate him from the game, but his animated roll on the floor reaction to the whistle did, and the technical foul completed the double-whammy that sent Harris to the pine for good with eight points, five rebounds and five blocks to end his illustrious high school career.
The luck of his team as a whole wasn't much better. It wasn't long before younger brother Tyler Harris (0 points, 0-6 FG) fouled out as well, and with the Colts out of sync and racking up fouls by the minute, they were standing on their last leg - Tavon Sledge. The cannonball speed of the junior guard was the last jolt for the Colts, and despite struggling with turnovers, Sledge scored an impressive - and game high - 33 points and took full advantage of Hills West's feverish full court press.
CBA - which led by as many as 20 points - continued to defy its size disadvantage on the glass (out-rebounding Hills West 46-26 for the game) and made the most of its status in the bonus (shooting 29-35 from the free throw stripe compared to Hills West's 12-18).
The open court antics of Sledge chomped into CBA's lead, but the Brothers kept the Colts at bay to take home the hardware.
Villanova, Kansas, Newburgh, Hills West. Goliath had a rough week.
Galal Cancer's 19 points and 11 rebounds paced Christian Brothers Academy. Kameron Ritter added 17 points and 7 rebounds while earning Class 'AA' MVP honors. CBA will face Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ the King next in its quest for a 'AA' Federation title.
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