Anthony Keane could tell from the moment Monsignor Farrell arrived in The Bronx, things weren’t right with the Lions.
“Our heads weren’t in it from the beginning,” the Farrell senior swingman said. “You could tell when we stepped on the court.”
That wasn’t evident until the second quarter, though, when Archbishop Stepinac outscored Monsignor Farrell, 23-6, in the second quarter en route to a 68-53 victory in a CHSAA Class A intersectional second round playoff game at Cardinal Spellman Monday night.
The Crusaders advance to the quarterfinals to meet Monsignor McClancy Saturday at Mount St. Michael. Farrell, meanwhile, endured an even longer trip home than the journey to The Bronx.
Chris Cassano scored a team-high 13 points for Monsignor Farrell.
“It was a long ride, but there’s really no excuses,” Keane said. “We came out lazy, we came out soft.”
Farrell only trailed 11-9 late in the first quarter, but Stepinac (15-10) stepped up the defensive intensity and went on a 12-0 run to take a 23-9 with 5:27 left in the second quarter.
Led by Rich Whitten, who had a game-high 19 points and six rebounds, Conrad Baltimore, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Kadeem Francis, who added 10 points, Stepinac forced 12 second-quarter turnovers and had a 24-9 rebounding advantage in the first half.
“I thought the physicality of their defense really took us out of our offensive sets,” Farrell coach Jeff Franzreb said. “We gave the ball up on the perimeter, just dribbling contact. The referees were letting them play and you have to adjust. I don’t think we did a great job of adjusting to the physicality of the game.”
By the time the onslaught was over, Farrell (8-17) had dug itself a 37-15 halftime deficit.
“They played better than us today, they played tougher than us today and they pushed us around on the defensive end,” Franzreb said. “Their offensive rebounding was very good in that first half. We let them get way too many second-chance opportunities”
Franzreb challenged his team at halftime, asking them what they wanted out of the second half. The Lions responded, although first the Stepinac ballooned to 29 at the end of the third quarter. Chris Cassano led the way with 13 points for Farrell.
“I am proud of them that they didn’t back down, but I wish we would have come out from the start with a bit of an attitude,” Franzreb said. “We came out a little lackadaisical and we let them push us around.”
Keane, who had 11 points in his final high-school game, was especially disappointed, saying the Farrell team that beat Nazareth in the first round Saturday didn’t make its way into The Bronx Tuesday.
“I think the second half of the Nazareth game, that was really us,” Keane said. “We didn’t show that at all.”