The St. Francis Xavier varsity boy’s basketball team came into the 2009-10 season sporting a giant chip on their shoulder. Although they had a successful season last year, they failed to win a tournament they entered and lost in the championship games of both leagues they participate in.
They began their season in the Salesian High School tournament by beating Holy Name and Blessed Sacrament of New Rochelle as well as Villa Maria Academy. In the championship game against Our Lady of Assumption, tournament M.V.P. Anthony Montella’s 20 points and double-digit rebounds led them.
Montella and power forward Aaron Cruz, who finished the championship game with a broken nose, filled the void left by center Ray Guerrero who had showed great promise earlier in the tournament.
Montella’s 59 points for the tournament were complemented by the backcourt tandem of Domenic Arena who scored 53 points and Tony Rugova and 36 points who led the run and gun attack that tallied more than 50 points in each of the four games.
St. Francis Xavier next took their 4-0 record to the Stepinac Invitational Tournament where they scored an overtime victory against St. Ann’s of Ossining in the opener. They next rolled to a 20-point victory against Our Lady of Mount Carmel from Elmsford which set up a meeting with perennial power Annunciation of Crestwood for the championship.
In a hard fought evenly played game, the Xavier’s Lions prevailed 33-32 to give them their second tournament championship. Leading the way was tournament M.V.P. Domenic Arena who scored 45 points and dished out a number of great assists. Anthony Montella and Tony Rugova were all tournament selections while guards Anthony Hart and James “Soup” Alivino provided great defense and three-point shooting.
Last came the tournament that Xavier wanted most. Coach John Musto and the program at St. Francis has been a participant at the Fordham Prep tournament for the last 10 years and despite some great teams, had never taken home the championship.
They started the tournament with an easy victory over Sacred Heart of Hartsdale and followed with a hard fought victory over the well-coached squad of St. Margaret’s of Riverdale. Forward Alex Bonilla showed his toughness early in the tournament while Hart and Alvino continued to light it up from the three-point line.
The championship game once again pitted the Lions against Annunciation of Crestwood. Annunciation was stunned early by a couple of 3-point bombs from Domenic Arena and the return of Aaron Cruz. Cruz seemed to grab every rebound and Arena and Anthony Montella seemed to score every big basket as St. Francis Xavier got their long awaited championship at Fordham Prep.
As mid-December approaches the Lions record sits at 24-0 but they are not satisfied and are looking to hold up another trophy at season’s end.
Another league championship trophy will knock that chip right off their shoulder.