St. Francis Wins Diocesean Basketball Championship By Keith Goldberg
St. Francis Wins Diocesean Basketball Championship
By Keith Goldberg
The St. Francis de Sales Novice Boys basketball team capped a memorable season by capturing the Brook lyn-Queens Diocesan Championship with a 30-14 victory over Our Lady of Grace, Gravesend, on Sunday March 21 at Monsignor McC4lancy High School.
The team, under the direction of coaches Tom Lee and Gerry Schultz finished the regular season tied with St. Thomas More for division honors, and along the way grabbed the championship of the Sacred Heart Tour nament and 3rd place in the St. Francis Christmas Tournament.
The playoffs began with routine wins over Monastery 40-18, and OLPH 44-13. John Evans scored 13 and Stephen Kelly 10 against Monastery. Kelly took top scoring honors against OLPH with 12. From there the road became much tougher. Our Lady of the Angelus was next. After appearing that they would have to forfeit, their fifth player showed up 25 minutes after the scheduled start and St. Francis graciously did the sportsmanlike thing and agreed to play the game. OLA gave everything they had, but in the end, the burden of playing with no substitutes, and the relentless SFDS defense wore them down. Joe Wolfer, John Evans, and Steven Kelly led a late surge and St. Francis advanced 36-31. Evans tallied 14, Kelly 12 and Wolfer 8. The following day found them matched against a St. Margaret’s team they had defeated in a hard fought game in the Sacred Heart Tour na ment. John Evans continued his hot shooting with 16, and Andrew Schultz added 8 to put St. Francis into the Queens Final Four.
Next up was Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, Bayside, the defending Dio cesan champions. St. Francis jum p ed out to an early lead. St. Francis was particularly accurate with their free throw shooting and this would be crucial. . The game stayed tight the rest of the way and once again, St. Francis made clutch plays down the stretch to secure the win 42-39. Evans hit for 16 and Kelly 12. It was probably the best play ed game of the playoffs.
The Queens Championship was the following day at Corpus Christi against Our Lady of Hope, Middle Vill age. Hope represented the only re-main ing blemish on their record as they had previously lost to them in the SFDS Tournament. Both teams were a bit tight and the SFDS offense was not the machine it had been the day before. St. Francis had only 20 points entering the 4th quarter. Xander McDonald-Smith strapped the team on his back then and exploded for 9 points in the quarter by himself. He finished with 15 for the game. His determination kept St. Francis in the game. It would take another hero to win it. The score was tied at 32 with 2.9 seconds remaining. St. Francis in bounded under its own basket with a play designed for Steven Kelly. Instead the ball found Andrew Schultz who let fly just before the buzzer. As the ball splashed through the net, St. Francis spilled out onto the court to celebrate the Championship they had set out for.
After receiving their awards as Queens Champions, St. Francis found out there would still be one more game. On Sunday, they returned to Msgr. McClancy High School, site of the OLBS game, to take on Our Lady of Grace, champions of Brooklyn. The game felt anticlimactic and it was hard to raise the emotional level again. St. Francis was sluggish but was never really challenged. James Goldberg, Danny Frazer, James Mercer, and Pat Butera brought the energy level up with their defense. Henry Moers’ two buckets in the 3rd quarter provided the knockout punch and St. Francis rolled to a 30-14 victory.