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Close competition sparks interest in CHSAA boys’ hoops season

Photo by Ken Maldonado
By Joseph Staszewski

The parity in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens boys’ basketball will make for a fun finish for the league’s Queens teams.

In recent years, it’s been pretty much a forgone conclusion who will compete for the title and likely reach the intersectional semifinals with Christ the King and Bishop Loughlin being the heavy favorites to make the title game.

Those schools are expected to be there again, but teams like St. Francis Prep, Archbishop Molloy and a suddenly surging Holy Cross believe they are certainly in the mix midway through the year.

“There is no dominant team that is winning every game,” Stanners senior C.J. Davis said. “Everybody is having either close games or an upset.”

It will make for plenty of standing room-only crowds in Queens’ gyms Friday nights when any of these teams square off, just like the Jack Curran Gymnasium last week when the Stanners faced off against St. Francis Prep. Molloy remained a game back of Christ the King and Loughlin for first-place, but has already lost to both. Then again, the Stanners only beat last place Xaverian just 53-49.

“I think anyone can win our league,” Molloy Coach Mike McCleary said.

St. Francis Prep has recent losses to Holy Cross and Molloy on the road, but can still make a late surge with plenty of home games coming. The Knights are currently playing their best basketball of the season after a slow start. They beat the Terriers and Iona Prep and suffered a narrow 59-53 defeat to early Archdiocesan and city champion favorite Cardinal Hayes, the only team without a league loss. The Queens teams are a combined 40-16 overall and 25-11 in league play.

“There is definitely more parity, without a doubt,” SFP Coach Tim Leary said.

The legendary headman said his kids, who won just two league games last season, believe they can compete and win any contest they play now. The Terriers fell 72-59 to a Rawle Alkins-less Christ the King team and saw a tight game against Bishop Loughlin get away on the road.

“Anytime you have parity like this it makes every team better because you have to play hard and learn every game,” Christ the King Coach Joe Arbitello said. “I think it will prepare the Brooklyn/Queens teams better for the playoffs.”

St. Raymond and Iona Prep have struggled behind Cardinal Hayes in the Archdiocese. It leaves the door open for three or more Brooklyn/Queens teams to reach the intersectional semifinals in March. Positioning yourself to do so makes every one of these January and February games that much more important.

“It’s always a war no matter what game you play,” McCleary said. “It’s fun to play the games period.”

It should be plenty of fun watching as well.

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