By Five Boro Sports
GARDEN CITY, L.I. — While they’ve played at different times and at different college gymnasiums, the Holy Cross boys’ basketball team has played in all six annual editions of the Crotty Classic.
Knights Coach Paul Gilvary couldn’t help but recognize the difference between last year’s appearance at the Mack Sports Complex at Hofstra University and Sunday’s game at Adelphi University.
“Last year, we were the 6 p.m. game against Lincoln live on MSG [Network],” Gilvary said. “This year we were 11:30 a.m. in the pancake special.”
It didn’t matter to the Knights, though, that they weren’t the marquee game this year. What was important was to keep the momentum the team has built by winning two of their last three games.
That was accomplished in a 67-51 non-league victory against Kellenberg (L.I.).
“We do a great job before the game of getting ourselves hyped up,” senior guard Eric Klingsberg said. “I don’t think it would have mattered if we played at 11:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m., we would have been ready to play.”
Klingsberg sure was. He scored a game-high 28 points, scoring 14 points in each half. Fellow senior Joe Monahan added 14 points, 12 in the first half, to help stake the Knights to a 33-23 lead at the break.
“I just woke up and I was ready,” Monahan said. “My dad had breakfast made for me.”
Evan Conti picked up where Monahan left off in the second half. After badly missing from the perimeter early, the sophomore came back with 10 of his 12 points in the second half and Sharif Mair added 10 to keep the Firebirds, led by Christopher Lyone’s 13 points, at arm’s length.
“Their attitude has been good, they’re playing hard and they’re playing unselfishly and usually when you do that you get good results,” Gilvary said of his team. “You could see today some of the guys are really starting to get it, really starting to play together.”
Holy Cross (9-8) has now won three of its last four games heading into Tuesday afternoon’s meeting with Rice at Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. It is a rematch of last year’s Class AA intersectional semifinal, won by the Knights.
While Rice has established itself as the mid-season favorite to win the city title, Holy Cross is a hard-working, blue-collar bunch that isn’t about to be intimidated by its opponent or surroundings.
“I think we could surprise them,” Monahan said. “If we play hard, don’t turn the ball over like they want us to with their defensive pressure. We’ll be fine.”