Above: The Regis High School Varsity Basketball Team proudly displays their City Championship plaques after a hard fought overtime victory Monday night at the Fordham University Rose Hill Gym.
There is no denying it. City basketball championships are difficult to come by. So for the Regis High School student athletes on the Varsity basketball team, earning a division title Monday night was exhilarating. And to have earned that Championship trophy in the 2014 Centennial year has made the accomplishment extra special, to say the least.
“It means so much to bring home a championship in the Centennial year because we know what it will mean for the school to now have a '2014' on the banner in the gym,” said Declan Cronin ’15, a Junior forward who contributed 2 points and 4 rebounds in the victory. “It shows how well the school is still performing 100 years after its founding.”
Luke Passannante ’14 made it clear that the championship was always the goal, regardless of the year. But still, there was something special about the circumstances. “Although we hadn't focused much on this season as the Centennial season, it definitely appears as if things are working out for all levels of our basketball program. The Freshmen, JV, and Varsity teams all made 2014 city finals appearances, with championships now won by the JV and Varsity. That’s pretty special.”
(Pictured: Luke Passannante '14 attempts to win the jump ball that began the game's overtime period. Photo courtesy Harisch Studios.)
Passannante, a senior forward and integral member of the team’s starting lineup, netted 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the winning effort. But the win did not come easy, as the CHSAA B-Division City Championship in Fordham University’s historic Rose Hill Gym required overtime to determine the victor.
While the stands were thundering with enthusiastic support from both schools, the game itself had a subdued feel for most of the evening. But the gym was electrified in the fourth quarter with a relentless comeback by Sacred Heart. A 12 point Regis lead quickly evaporated, and a Sacred Heart three pointer with 14 seconds remaining set the stage for overtime.
Kevin Cullen, now in his 13th year as Head Coach of the Varsity squad, felt composed even as the game was tied in the waning seconds of regulation. “We had been in control the whole game, and so I was confident we would prevail. I knew they were going to make a run eventually as basketball is a game of spurts. We just needed to maintain our focus.”
Between the end of regulation and the overtime tip-off, the team regained its composure. “We had to slow the game down and get out on their shooters,” said Declan Cronin. “We knew that if we played our game we'd win.”
Coach Cullen added, “The plan was the same as it was on every possession of every game this year: play tenacious individual and team defense, and we'll win the Championship. And I think that is what everybody saw from our guys in overtime.”
(Pictured: Coach Kevin Cullen instructing the Regis team during a timeout. Photo courtesy Harisch Studios.)
The Regis team, though visibly rattled by the unraveling of what seemed to be a secure lead, did in fact regain their composure and outscored Sacred Heart 8-2 in the overtime period.
Junior guard Conor Dillon '15 summed up the team’s overtime performance as persistent. “Most teams probably would've lost their composure after letting a lead slip away in the final minutes, so I think not panicking and being able to stay focused on our game plan was a true testament to our team's perseverance and mental toughness.”
The Raiders clung to a thrilling 47-41 overtime win, securing the first city championship for Regis since 2005.
“At the end of the game I was relieved and overjoyed to have finally won a City Championship,” said Passanante. “The hours following the game that night were unforgettable. That atmosphere of excitement and pride will stay with me for a long time.”
For the Regis athletes, the historic Jesuit venue itself added to the magic of earning a championship title in this Centennial year. Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gym holds the distinction as the oldest gymnasium in Division I play. It is one of the few still in use that were built during the lifetime of James Naismith, the inventor of the sport of basketball.
“This was the biggest stage we've played on all year and we rose to the occasion when the stakes and the atmosphere were at an all-time high,” said Cronin. “Of course it was great for the Jesuit team to win on a Jesuit University’s court. It definitely added something special to the moment.”
Later that evening, Xavier High School earned the CHSAA A-Division City Championship with a win over Bishop Ford, making Jesuit High Schools two-for-two in earning 2014 city titles at the self-described Jesuit University of New York.
The Regis Varsity team now moves on to face St. Mary’s (Lancaster, NY) in the New York State CHSAA B-Division Championship. The game will take place on Saturday, March 15 at 2:00 p.m. in the Fordham University Rose Hill Gym. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. The game will also be streamed live on MSGVarsity.com.
Regis HS wins CHSAA Class B championship, beating Sacred Heart, 47-41, in overtime at Fordham's Rose Hill Gym | New York Daily News, March 10, 2014
Regal Regis: Raiders win CHSAA 'B' crown | MSG Varsity, March 10, 2014
Highlights: Regis 47, Sacred Heart 41 - CHSAA 'B' Intersectional boys final | MSG Varsity, March 10, 2014
Founded in 1914 by an anonymous benefactor and supported by the generosity of her family, its alumni and friends, Regis High School offers tuition-free Jesuit college preparatory education to Roman Catholic young men from the New York metropolitan area who demonstrate superior intellectual and leadership potential. In the admissions process, special consideration is given to those who cannot otherwise afford a Catholic education. Regis High School remains the only all-scholarship Catholic secondary school in the country.
Above: Conor Dillon '15 drives to the basket late in the 4th quarter of the Championship game against Sacred Heart. Photo courtesy MSGVarsity.com
Above: Regis student fans packed the bleachers behind the Regis bench and provided rousing support for the team throughout the entire game. Photo courtesy Harisch Studios.
Above: The 2014 Regis Varsity Basketball team awaits their championship plaques. Photo courtesy John Griffin '14.