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Brooklyn Community’s undefeated season ends in state Federation semifinals

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ALBANY — Brooklyn Community Arts and Media’s bid for a perfect season came up short on Saturday.

The Lions couldn’t get a basket or a key call down the stretch of a 52–44 loss to Regis in the state Federation Class AA boys’ basketball semifinals at the Times Union Center in Albany on March 22. Brooklyn Community was 30–0 coming in the game. The players enjoyed the ride to get here, but feel they missed an opportunity to add to their city championship.

“It’s kind of fun going undefeated the whole season and win the chip,” senior center Christopher Benjamin said. “It’s just kind of hard not going undefeated now.”

The Lions (31–1) led 43–41 after Jevonte Wilson made 1 of 2 free throws with 3:01 remaining in the contest. Regis then proceeded to close the game on 11–1 run. Nine of those points came at the free throw line. The only basket was a layup that was part of a three-point play by Regis center Michael Cerone that started the spurt.

“It just hit us hard,” Benjamin said of Cerone’s momentum-changing play. “We didn’t know it was going to go down. I was ready to rebound it. When it went through it just hit me.”

Brooklyn Community tried its best to come back, but its hard work and hustle wasn’t rewarded with a favorable whistle. A double foul with Regis up two erased a potential Brooklyn Community basket when the Lions came up with the ball after a battle for possession at midcourt.

Patrick Cross (seven points) was called for a questionable offensive foul with the Raiders (19–11) ahead 47–43 with 54 seconds left in the game. One possession later, Lions point guard James Cooper was called for a foul when Charles Gavigan ran into him along the baseline late in the shot clock.

Brooklyn Community coach Lawanda Greene felt the double foul, which she called bogus, was a turning point, but she knew that didn’t lose the game for her team. The Lions missed 12 free throws and turned the ball over late.

“We had some turnovers at the end of the game, some poor decision making, and some calls didn’t go our way that we felt should have went our way,” she said. “At the end of the day, if we box out and make free throws we should come out victorious.”

Benjamin, who was the most valuable player in the Lions’ city championship victory, had another strong showing. He picked up the slack with Cooper sitting out the first half for disciplinary reasons. Benjamin scored a game-high 18 points, including seven straight in the second quarter, to help cut the Regis lead to 25–22 at the break. He also grabbed seven rebounds and helped get Cerone in early foul trouble.

“Chris just did what he did the whole season,” Green said. “You couldn’t ask for anything else from this guy in his senior season.”

Liam Hogan paced Regis with 14 points and Luke Passanante added seven points and 11 boards. Jevonte Wislon chipped in 10 boards for the Lions.

Greene feels the season is one the program can build off of moving forward, and her players took pride in bringing this year’s only city title to Brooklyn. It still didn’t ease the disappointment the players felt leaving the Times Union Center.

“I’m going to always remember we won the city championsh­ip,” Wilson said. “But I’m not going to forget this loss.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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