Niagara Catholic’s boys basketball team spent all but the first two minutes of the New York State Catholic Class B championship playing catch-up against New York City champion Regis.
When the Patriots did finally pull even on a Jalen Bradberry three-pointer with eight seconds left to send the game into overtime at 55-55, the Raiders did exactly what happened so often Sunday – kept their composure, executed on offense and regained the lead.
Regis (19-8) scored on the first possession of the extra period and ultimately outscored Niagara Catholic (17-9), 9-4, for a 64-59 win in front of a capacity crowd at Villa Maria.
“Well we have to get better at the little things,” Patriots coach Giulio Colangelo said, “and that’s the difference in tonight’s game. Game of inches. They capitalized on their opportunities, and we need to do a better job of doing that as well. But our effort was there. We’ll get better come next year.”
— Corey Desiderio (@cpdesi1) March 11, 2018
A Patriots team that starts two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior wasn’t even expected to be in this position at the start of the season, yet there they were with multiple chances to win and advance to the Federation Tournament of Champions.
Bradberry, a freshman, led the team with 19 points, while junior Haakim Siner had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Jaemon Turner added 10 points all in the second half.
Regis’ Joe Manfredi led all scorers with 23 points.
“We need to build on this season,” Colangelo said. “We have a lot of positive things to build. Keep our heads up. They should be proud of their effort and get ready for next year.”
After an 18-11 first-quarter deficit and 31-22 hole at halftime, Niagara Catholic came out of the break in a more aggressive full-court press than it was playing over the first 16 minutes of the game.
Colangelo’s other message was to get back to doing what got the Patriots their first Manhattan Cup title since 1962.
“That we had to play our game, play more as a team,” Colangelo said. “Be more aggressive defensively, and they did that. They came out strong in the third quarter to cut into the lead, and they gave a solid effort.”
The Patriots had it down to a one-possession game four times throughout the third quarter.
A Regis three-pointer with 6:49 to go in regulation put the visitors up 47-35, which matched its largest lead of the game, and looked like the nail in the coffin. But the Patriots scored the next eight points in the span of 48 seconds to pull within 47-43. The Raiders immediately responded with an 8-4 burst to push their lead back to 55-47.
Niagara Catholic ended the last 2:09 of regulation on an 8-0 run that was capped off by Bradberry’s tying three, but the Patriots were unable to carry their scoring surge into overtime.
“We weren’t able to get a good look in the first couple possessions,” Colangelo said. “We should’ve been a little more patient on offense, but we’ll learn from it and get back at it next year.”
Niagara Catholic (5) Jalen Bradberry lifts a shot over Regis (2) Conor Nicholson to tie the game in the closing seconds of the second half of the NYS Catholic Class B Championship at Villa Maria College in Cheektowaga Sunday. #preptalklive pic.twitter.com/McYyKUsfWO
— Mark Mulville (@MQMulville) March 11, 2018