Monday, December 29, 2008

Crusader Basketball making its mark!

BOYS BASKETBALL -- Catholic Memorial 59 Oshkosh North 53

Crusaders Shine in Second Half
CMH goes 2-0 in tournament

By Matthew Stevens Freeman Correspondent
MILWAUKEE – Maybe Catholic Memorial should just start with a deficit and play a 16-minute game. In four of its seven victories this season, the Crusaders have been down at halftime and that’s exactly what happened during their 59-53 victory Saturday over Oshkosh North during Day 2 of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout boys high school basketball tournament at the Al McGuire Center.

“It was a totally different team between the second and third quarter,” Catholic Memorial coach Dean Bellanti said. “Give the kids credit for being more aggressive.” In the two games of the event, Catholic Memorial (7-2) defeated two teams ranked in the coaches poll. Oshkosh North was ranked fourth in Division 1 and Monroe was ranked 13th in Division 2. “It confirms what I’ve believed from the start of the season that we can be as good a team as we want to be,” Bellanti said. “People will say we overachieved, but there’s no such thing. If you’re aggressive, you achieved something.”

The nonconference matchup pitted a pair of players who lead their respective leagues in scoring: Memorial junior guard T.J. Bray (Classic 8) and North senior center Ron Johnson (Fox Valley Association). With 38 seconds left, Catholic Memorial center David Smith made two free throws and then recovered a steal on the other end to seal the victory. “David stepped up big and hit those two free throws and played some real tough defense out there,” Bray said.

Catholic Memorial concluded a perfect (6-0) December after losing two of its first three the previous month. Oshkosh North (5-2), which outscored Memorial 18-4 in the second quarter to take a sevenpoint halftime lead, was led by center Johnson’s 22 points and 12 rebounds. “He’s such a big boy that we were just trying to take him as far away from the rim as possible,” Bellanti said. The Crusaders scored 16 of the first 18 points in the third quarter to take the lead. Bray led Memorial with 25 points, pushing his career total to 71 in the history of this event held at the practice facility for the Marquette University men’s basketball team. Bray had 19 second-half points and was 5-for-6 from the field after halftime. “He was very intelligent this weekend,” Bellanti said. “He was able to come over to me and say, ‘Coach, this is what’s happening’ and that’s the dialogue we’ve been encouraging.”

Memorial, normally scouted as a perimeter-based squad, matched North with 22 points in the paint as forward Mike Neary provided 10 points in 23 minutes. “This is a complete team – whether it’s (guards) Derek (Schell) or Jack (Fleming) who can hit shots, or we’ve got three great post players who can take over a game, too,” Bray said.

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