By Joseph Staszewski
ALBANY—Monsignor McClancy deserved better it. It really did.
Nothing will completely remedy the heartbreaking endings the girls’ basketball program’s seniors experienced each of the last two seasons, but there is a way to send them out the right way.
Last year, they lost at the buzzer in the CHSAA Class B city title game as juniors. This time around, they saw their careers come to a close on a highly questionable foul call and a last-second shot by Taylor Aybar that hit the backboard, and every part of the rim. But it never touched the net in overtime of the Class B Federation semifinals at the Times Union Center last Friday.
The final score: Livonia 61, McClancy 60
“We wanted it to be us this time, so we could have that happy ending,” Aybar said.
The Crusaders are still winners—big ones at that—after taking their program from a newbie as freshmen to Catholic state champions in four short years. It is time for McClancy to take the next step in the program’s maturation and allow the seven seniors to leave their team at a higher level than they found it.
McClancy needs to play in Brooklyn/Queens Division I next season, or if the CHSAA decides to actually create an intersectional ‘A’ division, then put the squad there. There is no going back to Division II, however, after the Crusaders lost just one league game and ran through the CHSAA Class B state playoffs. They also beat five Class A schools during the regular season.
“To see my team move up to A would be a great accomplishment, I’d be super proud, even though I wouldn’t be playing,” senior guard Kenia Garcia said. “I’d love to see them move up.”
Coach Dewey Hopkins said a move is in the works, but exactly what will happen is still uncertain. The move is needed not only from a competitive standpoint, but also to allow the program to grow with its seven returning players and diocesan-champion junior varsity.
“I know these girls,”Aybar said. “They have grown with us and they are going to take it far.”
Sure, McClancy will take some lumps next season. But it’s the only way for them to see the level they need to step up to, much like Bishop Loughlin did when it returned to Division I.
“The seniors brought us to another level,” Hopkins said.
They should leave McClancy at an even higher one on the way out. The group didn’t get the happy ending it hoped for on the court thanks to a bad whistle and near miss. They deserved better.
Send them out like the winners they are by moving the program they helped build another step forward.