Going into the final week of the regular season the Salesian High School Varsity Basketball team had a 4-4 record in the CHSAA and an 8-11 record overall. They had not played a game in eight days so the worry of being rusty was a great concern along with the fact two of the three opponents that week had the advantage in recent years. But on Monday the Eagles look like a team that has matured from its early season non-conference schedule. Salesian jumped to a first quarter 20-4 lead over host Sacred Heart of Yonkers. At half time they led 40-14. “It is a difficult gym to play in. Usually the visiting teams struggle to score in Yonkers”, said Salesian Coach Chris Beal. In the second half the Eagles put it in cruise control using the entire bench for the fourth quarter.
On Wednesday Salesian renewed their rivalry with former Conference foe Regis High School. It was the first time the three sophomores who start for Salesian had ever faced Regis. “In the past three years we didn’t have the talent to match them. But the games were decided in the last minute” Coach Beal stated. The style of play had always been a concern for the Eagle as they faced the “A” Division opponent. Regis’ would rely upon their skilled post players to dominate the game. But Junior Nigel Lewis and Sophomore Jason Alleyne controlled the inside game and the rebounds as the Eagles led from the beginning to take home a 57-48 victory. Salesian showed its most balanced attack of the season, with four scorers in double figures. Senior Shadayne Philbert scored 16 points, Lewis and Sophomore scored 15 each and Alleyne put in 13 points. “When the team is willing to distribute the ball like this it is a beautiful thing” said coach Beal.
Friday night was gong to be an emotional night for Salesian High School. The school was recognizing the Senior Class members of the basketball team prior to the regular season finale, this is scheduled to be the final Varsity game played in the historic gymnasium and they were playing cross town rival Blessed Sacrament. If the Eagles won the game they pulled into a virtual tie with the Cardinals for second place in CHSAA “B.” A month earlier Salesian lost by five in overtime when the two teams met. “Because of their size and athleticism Blessed has an advantage in our tight gymnasium” said Coach Beal. He used the teams familiarity to the Eagles advantage. “We knew what Blessed does well and relies upon. We need to minimize our mistakes and go to our strengths.” The sophomores Alleyne and Punter played like veterans and were not affected by the day’s emotions. Alleyne put up a double-double scoring a game high 31 points and pulling in 15 rebounds. Punter added 21 points for the Eagles as they ran away from Blessed with a 71-52 victory.
Salesian ends the regular season on the right path with these historic wins. With a 6-4 conference record and 11-11 overall this is the best basketball many fans have seen this decade. “The young players have matured on the court. We developed together as a team. That is not easy when you have only one senior who gets a big amount of time” said Coach Beal. Because of the unique format Salesian has to wait two weeks before they open up the playoffs. Hopefully they can pick up where they left off.