Backed by a dominant third quarter and a well-balanced scoring attack, the Albertus Magnus boys basketball team won its second Section 1 Class B championship in as many years Saturday at the Westchester County Center.
“It was really great to win last year, and now to win two years in a row is unbelievable,” said Albertus’ Jack Sullivan. “It’s something you dream about. Now it’s a legacy we have here to win it two times in a row.”
The Falcons captured the title with a 66-48 win against Dobbs Ferry, making it not just their second straight class title, but it’s the second straight year Albertus beat Dobbs Ferry in the title game. Last year’s game was a bit closer, with Albertus .
“Last year was a lot more physical. That game we kind of went back-and-forth battling. We weren’t making as many shots,” Sullivan said. “This year I feel like we matured much more as a team. We came out ready to play this game. I feel like last year we might’ve been a little more surprised playing in it.”
One big reason Albertus got off to a hot start was Sullivan himself. The junior hit a three on the game’s opening possession, just three of his 14 points in the first half. But Dobbs Ferry didn’t go quietly, as the Eagles erased a six-point deficit to end the first when they tied up in the second quarter at 21 on a lay-up by Nick Kost.
The game remained close for a few minutes, but Albertus pulled ahead for good Sullivan pulled down a rebound and took it the full-length of the court for a lay-up on the other end, giving the Falcons a 25-23 lead. Pat McGuinness hit a three, followed by a Sullivan jumper and a McGuinness floater right before the buzzer to give Albertus a 32-23 lead at the half.
Albertus’ leading scorer, Tyler Sayre, was held to just four points in the first half, all coming in the first quarter.
“When they switched to a zone they were crowding the middle, and that’s obviously where I live,” Sayre said. “We just made shots on the outside.”
Sayre picked things up in the second half, however, finishing with 12 points for the game and picking up tournament MVP honors. He was one of four Falcons that scored in double figures. Sullivan scored a game-high 22, followed by McGuinness’ 14 and Tom McConnell’s 10.
McGuinness and Sullivan also joined Sayre on the all-tournament team, along with Croton-Harmon’s Wes Turner, Blind Brook’s Sam Adler and Dobbs Ferry’s Eddie Ritch.
Ritch scored 12 in Saturday’s game for the Eagles, all on three-pointers. The only other player for Dobbs to score in double figures was Thomas Fleming, who scored 13. The Eagles offense struggled for much of the game, especially in the third quarter, when they hit just two field goals and scored six points. Part of the problem for Dobbs Ferry was a cold night from the outside.
“What we wanted to do was get to the rim and force them to play defense on us. When we got away from that, that’s where we hurt ourselves,” said Dobbs Ferry Coach Scott Patrillo. “We did start to hit some outside shots late in the game and they started to fall, but at point we had dug ourselves into a hole that we really couldn’t get out of it. When the outsides aren’t falling, they’re going to be there and they’re going to be there more than not and they look great. The rim looks 10-feet wide and you think you can put anything in there, but they just didn’t fall.”
But perhaps an even bigger problem for the Eagles was that they were without their leading scorer, Eric Paschall. The sophomore had to sit out of the championship game because he was given two technical fouls in Dobbs’ semifinal win against Blind Brook. Section rules state that if a player picks up two technicals in one game, that player is suspended for the next game, which happened to be the title game. Even worse for Dobbs, the rules state that Paschall couldn’t even be in the arena for the game.
“Of course we missed Eric, but we just missed Eric being with us because he’s part of our team,” Patrillo said. “We’re a pretty tight bunch. We want every one of us to be with us no matter what. We don’t even like guys to be out sick. We always want to be together.”
For the Falcons, the next step is a trip to the state regional finals. Their first game is Wednesday night against Burke Catholic at Mount St. Mary's in Newburgh. Last year in regionals, Albertus , which coincidentally was against Burke.
“It was one game out last year and you never want to have that happen,” Sullivan said. “After you had that happen last year, you’ve got to go out and just do better. I know we’ve got our game Wednesday and we’ve got to come out ready to play.”