CHSAA boys basketball beat writer Dylan Butler breaks down the Class A intersectional semifinals being played at Cardinal Spellman on Tuesday.
For live updates during the games, click here.
Here’s the schedule:
6 p.m. – St. Joseph by the Sea vs. Cardinal Hayes
7:30 p.m. – Xavier vs. Archbishop Stepinac
St. Joseph by the Sea Vikings
Head coach: Scott Welle
Player to watch: Joe Stabach
Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
Head coach: Joe Lods
Player to watch: Nay-Quan Bloomer
Outlook: After shocking Mount St. Michael on its home court Saturday in the Class A quarterfinals, St. Joseph by the Sea is unknown no longer.
Nay-Quan Bloomer is hoping to lead Cardinal Hayes to the CHSAA Class A intersectional title game.
“No one expected us to win, no one really knew of us,” Eddie Connelly said. “But we’re in the semifinals now.”
The Vikings, with their interchangeable five guards, is the George Mason of the Class A tournament and they’ve certainly gotten Cardinal Hayes attention.
“We can’t take them easy because they just beat a good team,” Bloomer said. “We’ve just got to fight and come in with the same energy we did with Bishop Ford.”
Although undersized, St. Joseph by the Sea spreads the court out well and everyone in the starting lineup is dangerous from beyond the arc. Against Mount, the Vikings were able to pull the Mountaineers big men away from the basket and beat them off the dribble and to the basket.
Bloomer can also shoot it, as he proved early and late against Bishop Ford on Saturday. Enigmatic Bryant McAdoo had one of his better games against the Falcons. Lods calls the 6-foot-5 senior forward “a mystery.” The second-year coach can say the same about Sea.
“We lost to Mount St. Michael twice during the year, by four and by seven, and they were able to beat Mount while we couldn’t,” Lods said. “My radar is up here. I’ve got to call whatever friends I have on Staten Island and try and get some game tape because I wasn’t ready for it. “
Perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the Cardinals, outside of course from beating Bishop Ford, was watching Sea’s upset victory over Mount.
“I was very surprised Mount lost,” Lods said. “That’s not to be disrespectful to St. Joe’s. I told my guys, don’t take anything for granted. It was good that my kids walked in and saw that.”
Head coach: Joe McGrane
Player to watch: Eddie Sullivan
Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders
Head coach: Tim Philip
Player to watch: Conroy Baltimore
Outlook: Xavier shocked the New York City high school basketball world by upsetting defending Class A champions Iona Prep, handing the Gaels their first league loss in two years. McGrane ranks the win right up there with the 2000 championship victory, but he knows a quarterfinal stunner doesn’t guarantee a semifinal victory.
Perhaps a viewing of the movie “Miracle” is in order.
“Herb Brooks, after the U.S. Olympic team beat the Russians, he really had to get on them in order for them to play Finland [in the Gold Medal game],” McGrane said. “I’ve seen Stepinac a few times and I think they’re as good [as Iona Prep]. It’s definitely going to be a tough, tough game.”
Stepinac finished third in the tough A-North division, twice beating Cardinal Hayes. With 6-foot-5 junior Conroy Baltimore in the middle and tough, physical guards Rich Whitten, James Chillemi and Kadeem Francis, the Crusaders are now the favorite to win their first Class A title since 1993.
“I’m impressed with their overall athleticism,” McGrane said. “[Baltimore] in the middle blocks shots, the guards handle it very well, they pressure you very well and they’re extremely athletic, especially in the wing positions.”
As gratifying as beating Iona Prep was, McGrane said he’s still searching for a complete four quarters from his team. The ideal situation, he said, would be combining the first half of a 61-58 loss to Cardinal Hayes on Jan. 20 with the second half of an 82-58 victory against St. John’s Prep on Feb. 16.
“We’re still hoping for that full game,” McGrane said. “We’re going to need that full game against Stepinac.”