Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00
As ‘March Madness’ takes control of college ball, some of the younger local teams are wrapping up. Over the past several years the Saint Mary’s Elementary School seventh- eighth-grade boys’ basketball team has made great strides under the coaching guidance of Rich Cain and Jack Murphy. In the past the team has been strong, but plagued by injuries and fallen short of winning the Catholic Middle School Athletic Association (CMSAA) Championships. This season would definitely be a little different.
With just a handful of practices, the team took the court in early December in Seaford against the team that knocked them out of the tournament last year, St. William the Abbot. Getting off to a quick start the team never looked back, not only winning that game handily, but more throughout the season to end up with a 17-0 record. At playoffs, the league of 11 teams split into “A” and “B” divisions to promote equal play. St. Mary’s received the No. 1 seed in the “A” bracket. After receiving a bye in the first round and winning in the semi-final game on their home court by 25, the team headed across the Island to Rockville Centre to face the two-time champions, St. Agnes.
As the starting five - Mathew Asenjo, Shiraz Jafri, Khalid Moore, John Alimo, and Kyle Murphy - took the court, the crowd was pumped for a good game. After striking first “the boys seemed a bit anxious,” said Coach Cain. It was a crowded St. Mary’s bench (10 boys on the bench and 5 on the floor); rotating them in took all four quarters. “The first two quarters seemed to fly by,” said Coach Murphy. The team played well with contributions from everyone in the game. However, three quick baskets were allowed in the last minute of the first half. The St. Mary’s boys held on to a one point lead 25-24.
As the third quarter began, the teams went basket for basket. With a couple of unfortunate turnovers in the backcourt the St. Mary’s boys fell behind by six. With the crowd screaming for St. Agnes, Coach Cain walked out to almost half court before he was granted a well-needed time out. Both coaches reminded the team that mistakes will happen and it is the team that recovers from their mistakes the quickest that l wins the game. With that said, the boys took the floor and started playing their St. Mary’s fast paced and well executed ball, regaining the lead and never looking back. The fourth quarter was no different as far as hard play went. The boy’s kept their poise and control and went on to take the Championship 55-47.
The season didn’t end there. The team was invited to participate in an eight-team tournament to be played at Chaminade. The St. Mary’s boys ended up champions of that tournament as well, ending the long season with a 22-0 record.
Good luck to the 14 eighth-graders as they head off to high school ball.
Congratulations to all the boys and coaches on a fantastic season and a job well done!