The Xaverian Clippers learned a hard lesson last Thursday — nice guys finish last.
Clippers coach Jack Alesi didn’t realize his team had committed too few second-half fouls against Mount. St. Michael until it was too late.
Xaverian didn’t ramp up its defensive intensity until the final 4.2 seconds, when Alesi’s players fouled three times in an attempt to force their host to the free-throw line.
Mount St. Michael managed to run out the clock and hold on for a 52–51 win in Catholic High School League Class AA boys basketball — and Alesi said he couldn’t find an easy way to tell his team to get more physical.
“I didn’t want to call a time out,” Alesi said. “I couldn’t just yell out to change our defense … and be a little more aggressive.”
His club still had a chance to win a back-and-forth. Joseph Dello Russo (nine points) hit his third three pointer of the game to pull Xaverian (4–1, 2–1) within a point.
The Clippers then got a defensive stop with 12.9 seconds left, but failed to pull off a shot.
Mount, which had just one team foul at the time, hacked Robert Rossiter (seven points). On the ensuing inbound, point guard Lamel Fasion (13 points) tried to slip past KJ Riley, but lost the ball in the attempt.
“He was trying to get too cute,” Alesi said. “He knew the guy was going to foul.”
The coach knows his young team is up against a steep learning curve and was pleased with the way they competed overall. They did let the Mountaineers (4–3, 2–2) — especially center Stefan Chong — push them around in the second half, but refused to back down all the same. Despite some miscues, Alesi doesn’t want to take his foot off the pedal.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” he said, “I don’t want to turn these guys into [Jets quarterback] Mark Sanchez. I don’t want these guys thinking the way out of this is to go conservative.”
Alesi hasn’t made things easy in the early season. The loss to Mount was the first of three games in three days.
Following Christmas the Clippers travel to Alaska for the Doc Larson Roundball Classic at Wasilla High School in Alaska, which produced such famous alums as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Alesi believes it will be an educational experience.
“I always thought it would be cool to go there,” Alesi said. “[The players] think I’m nuts.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk