For all of its success over the past seven years, the Christian Brothers Academy basketball team had never won a state title, let alone reached the finals.
That all ended Sunday in Glens Falls when the Brothers stormed past Section XI champion Half Hollow Hills West 71-53 for the Class AA championship.
We're glad we're the first guys to put that [state championship] banner up on the wall, said junior guard Galal Cancer.
CBA (24-1) continued its trend of double-digit playoff victories by using a balanced attack and a match-up zone defense to confuse and frustrate top-ranked Half Hollow Hills West (24-2).
"Everybody that got into the game contributed in their own way," said CBA coach Dave Doemel.
The game had the potential to be a study in contrasts " CBA with its backcourt of Cancer, Kameron Ritter and Max Weaver, and Half Hollow Hills West with New York State's Mr. Basketball, senior forward Tobias Harris, and electric point guard Tavon Sledge.
But things fell apart for the Colts in the third quarter. Once the Brothers grabbed a 36-21 lead with a 9-0 run, Half Hollow Hills West players started flying around the court in a desperate attempt to force turnovers. Instead they were called for fouls, which proved to be a bad thing as CBA made 23 of its 27 free throws in the second half.
"We never joke about foul shots," said Ritter, who was a perfect 9-for-9 from the charity stripe. "We always pick a prime moment in practice to work on our free throws because we know big games come down to foul shooting."
Things got worse for Half Hollow Hills West when Harris fouled out late in the third quarter. Harris was called for his fourth personal foul while trying to force a turnover, and then picked up a technical foul with an emotional protest that included flopping on the court in disgust.