By Sam Vail
BETHLEHEM — On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the final game of the season, CBA handed The Eagles their first loss by a score of 65-54.
The previously undefeated Eagles came into Wednesday’s game looking to put a cap on the regular season and complete the first undefeated season in program history.
Jordan King, who led all scorers with 27, and the rest of CBA’s team were not backing down. The Brothers took a four-point lead into the half, and King had eight points in the third and went 10 for 10 from the line in the fourth to help put the game out of reach.
“I just think our guys played their hearts out tonight and were able to overcome many weapons.” said CBA Coach Dave Domel.
CBA started the game strong with a quick three-point shot, followed by great defense, forcing turnovers and blocking shots.
The Eagles offense flowed through Eric Salo in the first quarter, as he converted three of three shots for six points.
Bethlehem’s players were selfless on offense, sharing the ball and racking up tallies in the assist column, yet for every point Bethlehem converted, The Brothers retaliated with offense of their own. At the end of the first quarter the game was tied at 18 points.
The Eagles could not get their offense into the game to start the second quarter, going scoreless for the first 3:24 until Michael Ortale converted a shot off the glass.
Junior Guard Zach Zonca kept Bethlehem in the game, hitting back to back three pointers for The Eagles. He followed those up with tough defense, forcing a turnover with one minute left in the half, which he converted for two points, to keep The Eagles within four points headed into the break.
Bethlehem started the third quarter strong. Forced turnovers led to quick points off fast breaks. Jake Laclair continued to find the open man for The Eagles, and after a three from Zonca, The Eagles were able to regain the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.
CBA continued strong play throughout the entire second half with excellent defense. Peter O’Toole had a strong third quarter with seven points including a clutch three to stop Bethlehem’s run.
King went 12 for 12 from the free throw line while O’Toole had 14 points and Drew Signor had 13. Mike Murray had five, Hagen Foley had four and Vincent Tirino had two to round out scoring for The Brothers.
Salo had 16 points to lead Bethlehem, while Zonca had 13 and Ortale chipped in a dozen. Pat Ryan had seven, Will Davis had four and Justin Barnes had two for The Eagles.
“We had to execute and we did not play well,” said Bethlehem Coach AG Irons, “We learned what it’s like to lose, we don’t like it.”
Bethlehem finished the regular season 15-1 in Suburban Council play and 19-1 overall. CBA will head into the playoffs with a 12-5 and 13-5 record.
Bethlehem, the No. 1 seed, will get a bye in the first round and play the winner of No. 8 LaSalle and No. 9 Schenectady on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hudson Valley Community College. CBA, the No. 4 seed, will host No. 13 Guilderland on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Click on a photo below to view a slideshow of the rest. (Photos by Jim Franco)