In an exciting match-up that came down to the last possession, the Regis Varsity basketball team secured a victory over #1 ranked La Salle Academy to earn the 2018 CHSAA “B” Division championship Friday night. It was the team's first victory over La Salle this season, having lost two previous meetings.
The title is the first for Regis since 2015, and the third in the last five seasons. It also marks the first time in school history that Regis has won the city championship in both Varsity Soccer and Varsity Basketball in the same academic year. Freshman Basketball also secured the city championship this year.
Early in the game, which was held in Fordham University’s historic Rose Hill Gym (Bronx, NY), La Salle’s full court press created a chaos for the Regis offense that seemed inspired by the winds of the nor’easter whirling outside. Regis’s perimeter shooting went cold, but senior Liam Gallagher ’18 (12 rebounds, 2 steals, and a team high 11 points) muscled his way to 9 first half points—mostly in the interior paint—to keep the score close. Regis took a 22-21 lead into halftime.
The one point halftime lead was relinquished early in the second half, with Regis eventually trailing by four. But the Regis shooters were about to get hot, and the next 3 minutes would become the defining moments for the varsity squad’s season.
With 7:15 left in the fourth quarter, junior Liam Nicholson ’19 found senior Charles Bostwick ’18 at the top of the key for a deep three pointer, cutting the La Salle lead to one. Then, with 5:30 left to play, sophomore Joe Manfredi ’20 drained a three pointer from the wing to give Regis a 36-34 lead. A great defensive block by Manfredi on the next possession led to a Regis fast break where Nicholson again found Bostwick—this time on the wing—who drained another deep three pointer a mere 30 seconds after the last basket. Not done yet, a baseline inbounds pass to Manfredi in the corner led to yet another three pointer and, just like that, Regis found itself with an 8 point lead with 3:50 left to play.
Despite the lead, Regis had by no means guaranteed their victory. Errant free throw shooting kept La Salle in the game. With a 2 point lead and 13 seconds left, Regis missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving La Salle a chance to tie or take the lead. A quick transition down court gave the Cardinals offense a great look at a layup, but they were unable to convert. Regis went back to the foul line with 3 seconds left, but missed both free throws. A desperation heave at the buzzer for La Salle fell short, securing the victory for Regis.
A major key to victory was an intense defense focused on Korey Williams, who led the league with an average of over 27 points a game. The combined pressure of the Nicholson brothers (Liam '19 and Conor '18) held the league MVP to 13 points in the first half and just 5 in the second half.
"This squad is incredible, they have been nothing but a pleasure to coach this year, and I don't think we've seen the best out of them yet," said Kevin Cullen, now in his 17th year as head coach of the Regis Varsity team. "They are a tight-knit group both on and off the court. They play intense on both sides of the court and have a great combination of an inside/outside game. When they are on, it's a beautiful thing to watch."
"With Varsity Soccer's championship, Freshman Basketball's, and now this, it's been an incredible year in our Athletics Department," added Cullen. "I'm just enjoying the ride."
Archived video of the game is available at regis.org/livestream. Photographs from the game are provided below.
Congratulations to Coach Cullen and the entire Varsity team for a tremendous season and an exciting victory in the city championship. Please check back later this week for more information on the state championship tournament.
Sophomore Joe Manfredi '20 helps control the offense early in the first half.
Joe Manfredi '20 pulls up for a three pointer on the far wing.
Senior Matthew Clarkin '18 takes a first-half foul shot.
The Regis defense maintained an aggressive approach throughout the game.
Quick cross-court passes helped the Regis offense beat La Salle's full-court press.
Liam Gallagher '18 leaps high in the air for a jump shot near the baseline.
Liam Nicholson '19 sets the offense from the top of the key.
Liam Gallagher '18 makes a strong move to the basket.
Liam Gallagher '18 maintained a strong focus on defense throughout his 31 minutes of game play.
Luke Hartigan '20 and Chris Frick '18 broadcast the championship game live.
With 7:15 left in the fourth quarter, junior Liam Nicholson ’19 found senior Charles Bostwick ’18 at the top of the key for a deep three pointer, cutting the La Salle lead to one.
With 5:30 left to play, sophomore Joe Manfredi ’20 drained a three pointer from the wing to give Regis a 36-34 lead.
Nicholson again found Bostwick—this time on the wing—who drained another deep three pointer a mere 30 seconds after the last basket.
Liam Nicholson '19 leads a fast break late in the game.
In the final seconds of the game, a quick transition down court gave the Cardinals offense a great look at a layup, but they were unable to convert.
Coach Cullen and the Varsity basketball team pause for a moment on the team bench before the trophy ceremony.
The Regis High School 2018 CHSAA "B" Division City Champions