Varsity Basketball Earns City, State Championship Titles in Thrilling Fashion
The Varsity Basketball team claimed its first CHSAA “B” State Championship since 2014 on Sunday, March 11 in a thrilling overtime win. Held at Villa Maria College (Buffalo, NY) the team overcame a late-game surge by Niagara Catholic High School to record a 64-59 victory. The win punched the team’s ticket to the New York State Federation Championship tournament (Glens Falls, NY), where their season ultimately ended after losing to Meekel Christian Academy (NYSPHSAA State Champions) in a federation semifinal game.

In his 17th season as head coach, Mr. Kevin Cullen guided the Regis team to a 15-8 record in the regular season. Cullen cites injuries to key players as having impacted the team record, but also for forcing the team to build chemistry and a mental preparedness that would serve them well in the playoffs. The team would end the year on a 4-1 postseason run.

“The toughness, confidence, and determination of our student-athletes is what guided us through this season and helped us earn the state championship,” said Cullen.

The championship win was especially emotional for the Nicholson brothers (Conor ’18 and Liam ’19) who have been playing basketball together since they were five and six years old. Coached by their dad in their local recreation league at every grade level until high school, this year presented one final season for the brothers to play together.

“Playing alongside my brother this playoff run meant the world to me,” said Conor reflecting on his time spent with brother Liam.

“It feels right ending my career with the person who has been playing alongside me my whole life. The best thing about playing with Liam is knowing he has my back. He’ll run through a wall for me with no hesitation. It definitely gives me confidence on the court.”

The team reached the State Championship in an equally thrilling city championship win over #1 ranked La Salle Academy on March 2 that came down to the last possession. It was the team’s first victory over La Salle this season, having lost two previous meetings. The city title was the first for Regis since 2015, and the third in the last five seasons. It also marked 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.

Of the 13 members of the team, four of them—Conor Nicholson ’18, Sean Stix ’18, Liam Nicholson ’19, and Andrew Vittoria ’19—were also members of the Varsity Soccer championship team. Of those four, Sean Stix ’18 has the distinction of also winning the spring 2017 volleyball city championship, making him the only athlete in Regis history to win three city championships in three different sports in a span of one year.

“Being a part of three city championship teams has been an incredible experience, and means even more coming in my senior year,” said Stix. “In all three instances, Regis has been the underdog: to Salesian in volleyball, to Fordham in soccer, and to La Salle in basketball. Getting those wins as underdogs makes them even more special.”

In just his second year as president of Regis, Rev. Daniel K. Lahart, SJ has already witnessed impressive achievements in Regis athletics, and he is well aware of the determination these student-athletes have demonstrated during their championship runs.

“Our students have to have grit to make it at Regis. Our athletes do too. They give their all in the classroom and on the courts and fields where they compete,” said Lahart.

“I have always felt that smart players can make up for other disadvantages,” added Lahart. “Often we are not the most athletic team. In many sports we have real limitations here in Manhattan regarding practice and playing facilities. Our players travel great distances to get to Regis, and greater distances to a variety of fields or to play opponents. These adversities build camaraderie, and our teams are better because of it.”

Congratulations to Coach Cullen and the entire Varsity team for a tremendous season and exciting victories in the city and state championships.

Posted: 5/15/18