With a five-point lead in the fourth quarter and with the opponents' point guard in serious foul trouble, the Albany Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team seemed to be in great shape during last Saturday's Class AA regional final at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Yet when the buzzer sounded, it was the Syracuse branch of CBA celebrating a trip to the state final four in Glens Falls and Albany CBA pondering the disappointment of a 50-45 defeat.
Not many expected us to be here," Albany CBA coach Dave Doemel said. "The kids gave a great showing and we fought hard. It was a battle out there, and I was proud of them."
Yet for all that fight and fortitude, Albany CBA will forever look at a few moments in time where the dream of a state championship got dashed.
The two CBA teams were tied at 45 after Kameron Ritter sank a free throw with 46.7 seconds left. Syracuse CBA called a time-out.
Following the time-out, Syracuse CBA worked the ball around and worked toward the end of the shot clock. Off a screen, point guard Stefan Thompson flashed open and, from 18 feet out, drained a jumper with 14.5 seconds left to put Syracuse CBA up 47-45.
"A single mistake on defense killed us," Doemel said. "Great players make great plays."
Albany CBA still had lots of time for a tying or winning basket, but it never got the chance as Syracuse CBA's Pat Wiese stole the inbounds pass and got fouled with 9.1 seconds left. When Wiese made both free throws, Albany CBA was finished.
Fresh off stunning Albany Academy in the Section II, Class AA final, Albany CBA came to the Syracuse suburbs with a confidence that belied the youth of its roster. It has just four seniors, two of them starters.