The Msgr. McClancy M.H.S., East Elmhurst, varsity basketball team fell just short in capturing the 31st annual Brother Arnold Bakutis, S.C., Basketball Tournament, held Dec. 7-9.
The Crusaders gave a valiant effort but lost the championship game to the Firebirds of LaSalle Academy, Manhattan, 70-62.
“They had the height advantage, but we did battle them off the boards,” said McClancy Head Coach Don Kent after the loss. “We just came up short.”
The Crusaders earned an 85-75 opening round victory over Blessed Sacrament H.S., New Rochelle, to advance to the semifinals. Senior forward Austin John Huggins paced McClancy with 20 pts. and threw down two impressive dunks. Junior guard Nhoel Deverson scored 18 pts., while senior forward Kevin Wilkins added 13 pts. and eight rebounds.
“We ran the floor well and played good defense,” Huggins said. “Defense is the most important part of the game. If you play good defense, it opens up the offense for you.”
In the semifinals, McClancy battled to a tight 50-49 win over Sacred Heart H.S., Yonkers. Huggins again led the Crusaders with 17 pts.
McClancy sought to win its first Brother Arnold tournament since 2008, but LaSalle was a tough matchup. The Crusaders led the physical battle by three at halftime, but the Firebirds fought back to take the lead after three quarters.
LaSalle increased the lead to seven points, forcing McClancy to play from behind.
The Crusaders mounted a comeback, but the Firebirds nailed some clutch shots down the stretch. McClancy could not make up the difference and finished the tournament in second place.
“This was the most intense we played all season,” Kent said. “The chemistry of the team after five games is building. I was pleased with the effort, and this tournament is going to help us in league play.”
LaSalle’s junior guard Dwayne Pow was named Tournament MVP, and seniors Emmanuel McNeil and Chris Polanco earned All-Tournament honors along with Huggins, Wilkins and senior forward Sean O’Connell from McClancy.