Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"What a great basketball game!"

from today's Waukesha Freeman --


Representing the same county and same league, Crusaders and Warhawks bring home gold balls
‘What can you say? (Bray)’s Mr. Basketball’

By Daniel Mike Freeman Staff

MADISON – It was certainly a memorable day for T.J. Bray.

“It’s probably one of the best days of my life,” the Catholic Memorial High School senior said.

Not only did the Princeton University recruit learn he was named Mr. Basketball by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association, but he helped the Crusaders to the WIAA Division 2 state title with a 60-48 victory over Maple Northwestern at the Kohl Center.

“We were asked, ‘When do you want to give him the award?’” CMH coach Dean Bellanti said. “We said, ‘Let’s do it after the game.’

“Coming into the night, we were thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we captured the gold ball and then T.J. gets this award?’ It was just icing on the cake.”

Bray lived up to his new title Saturday with 20 points, a team-high 12 rebounds, six steals and five assists. He even blocked a shot in being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player by The Associated Press.

“What can you say? He’s Mr. Basketball,” senior center Austin Pucylowski said. “He’s just the heart and soul of the team.”

It’s the second WIAA state title for CMH since the state private schools joined the organization. The Crusaders also won in 2004 – that time in more thrilling fashion when Griffin LaDew’s 3-pointer at the buzzer beat Seymour 58-55.

Senior guard Derek Schell scored a team-high 21 Saturday for the Crusaders (27-2), including three 3-pointers, which are his fort̩. His two 3-pointers toward the end of the second period helped the Crusaders go ahead 27-20 at halftime Рas well as get him out of the shooting funk he was in at the Kohl Center.

“All my shots I was taking in the first quarter felt like they were going in and just came right out,” Schell said. “I felt I was getting robbed. The last couple of games, I haven’t really been hitting my 3s. Those got us going momentum-wise into halftime, and got my confidence going in the second half.”

S ch e l l scored 13 in the second half as Memorial held off a run from Northwestern in the third period.

“Me and Derek, we knew we had to step up big-time,” Bray said. “The second quarter, he hit those two 3s to give us some breathing room going into halftime.

“Unfortunately, we let them back in it.”

The Tigers took a 33-31 lead at one point, but two free throws from Bray and a layup from Schell put the Crusaders ahead 35-33, a lead they would never relinquish. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from senior Dillon Connors put Memorial ahead 42-36 after three periods. All 60 points for Memorial came from seniors, making this the penultimate moment for the Crusaders. “We have nine seniors on this team, and it’s too bad it was their last game that they’ll play together because they’ve been an absolute joy to coach,” Bellanti said. “I’m very proud of them. They deserve to be champions.

“What a great basketball game to end their careers.”

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