Mike Cavataio waited a long time to get his first taste of the Catholic League’s intersectional playoffs. He made sure it was not a one-and-done experience.
The St. Francis Prep swingman scored 18 of his game-high 26 points after halftime, leading the Terriers to a 56-46 opening round victory over All Hallows at Holy Cross Sunday afternoon.
“I definitely wanted to win here,” he said, “and prove something in the cities after what happened in (the) Brooklyn/Queens (Diocesan playoffs).”
St. Francis Prep (16-8) got off to another slow start, trailing 19-8 early, in part because Cavataio, an All-CHSAA selection and the league’s second leading scorer, had trouble getting touches.
But after running off picks along the baseline instead of posting up after halftime, the St. John’s recruit came alive, helping the Terriers build an 11-point lead after three quarters.
“I was taking quicker shots,” he said. “In the first half, I was taking too long to get off my shots. … The team was getting me the ball in open spaces and I had good looks.”
When Rick Nash knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and Juan Diaz sank two free throws, cutting the lead to three, Cavataio answered, scoring nine of St. Francis Prep’s next 14 points.
“You can’t say enough about Mike,” St. Francis Prep Coach Tim Leary said. “He’s so competitive. He does everything for us.”
Leary bemoaned his team’s inability to effectively run its motion offense after the Terriers lost the opener of the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan playoffs to Bishop Loughlin. They cut down on the movement, and looked to get the ball to Cavataio even more.
While forward Jason Philippe was the only other Terrier to finish in double figures with 12 points - Leary would like to see more balance - they did advance, earning a quarterfinal meeting with Christ the King Thursday at St. Francis Prep.
“At least we’re not getting the golf clubs out yet,” he quipped.
In the other opening round game, Archbishop Molloy, after rallying from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, fell to Monsignor Farrell in overtime, 66-64. When Rocco Rubino, who led the Stanners with 20 points, capped a 17-2 run with two free throws with 37.1 seconds remaining that gave Molloy a three-point lead, it looked like they would advance.
But Stephen Rivera caught James Hett’s air ball under the basket and flipped in the game-tying layup for Farrell as time expired. Rivera also scored the game-winning hoop with 14 seconds remaining in the extra session. Rubino had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his 3-pointer hit the side of the rim.
Peter Mehmel added 12 points for Molloy and Lionel Hilaire added 10. Hett led Monsignor Farrell with 23.