The last time All Hallows played a competitive game, the Gaels pushed eventual CHSAA Class AA intersectional champion Rice to the brink before eventually succumbing in the semifinals last year at Carnesecca Arena.
That stunning run to the CHSAA Final Four was just a taste for senior Michael Alvarado. Now the Manhattan-bound guard wants more.
The Gaels survived St. Francis Prep in the first round and advanced all the way to the semifinals, not only hanging with the mighty Raiders, but leading by nine in the fourth quarter before losing, 67-58.
“That was definitely beneficial because it gave them a little impetus for this year because they knew we were up in the fourth quarter,” All Hallows coach John Carey said. “We just kind of ran out of gas a bit and they had more bodies to go to than we did.”
All Hallows will play the same underdog role this year, with Rice, Christ the King and Bishop Loughlin the favorites. But that’s just fine with Alvarado.
Alvarado is one of four players who started in the semifinals last year at St. John’s back for the Gaels. He is joined by 6-foot-4 Omar Kellman, 6-foot-3 Tevin Williams and 6-foot-5 Geoff Tolentino.
That should be a bit easier in what Carey calls “the third year of a three-year process.”
In Carey’s first year back at All Hallows after serving as an assistant coach at Fairfield University for three years, highly touted forward Devon Collier and Shane Southwell both transferred out of the Bronx school, to St. Anthony’s (N.J.) and Rice, respectively, and the Gaels finished 3-21.
Last year six players were off the team at different times for different reasons. The Gaels were so thin, Carey had to call up players from the junior varsity just to have enough to field a full practice squad.
Now, Carey figures, he has veterans like Williams and Alvarado, who know what to expect from Carey and what the longtime coach expects of them. That helps on the court and in the locker room.
“Be at practice, be on time and give a solid work ethic,” Carey said. “If we do those things, with the talent level we have, I think we can compete.”
Alvarado isn’t content at just competing, though. He wants to get back to St. John’s and this time come away victorious.