St. Joseph’s Brooklyn men’s and women’s basketball teams did not disappoint in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the newly opened Hill Center. The Bears won both ends of a doubleheader against their sister school, St. Joseph’s Long Island.
The seventh annual East vs. West matchup, with Brooklyn’s Bears and Lady Bears facing the Golden Eagles of Long Island, was a fitting backdrop to the Hill Center’s opening ceremonies on Dec. 18.
In the evening’s first game, the Lady Bears secured the school’s first-ever Hill Center win, a 69–58 decision over the Golden Eagles. Led by senior forward Samantha Retas’s 14 points and 17 rebounds, St. Joseph’s Brooklyn closed out the first half on a 12–0 run take a 36–19 lead into intermission. The Lady Bears (4–3) maintained a double-digit advantage throughout to help capture the team’s second straight win against the Golden Eagles (2–7).
In the nightcap, St. Joe’s Brooklyn men’s team (7–3) trailed visiting St. Joe’s (5–5) for much of the game, at one point falling behind by 13 points. With Brooklyn star forward Michael Megafu in foul trouble, senior guard Vernon Maddox led the Bears to a 69–66 win with 19 points and five assists.
Maddox, generously listed at 5-foot-7, scored St. Joe’s Brooklyn’s final five points, giving his team the lead on a three-pointer with one minute left. He converted two crucial free throws with nine seconds remaining to seal the Bears’ third-straight series win and complete the hometown sweep.
The Golden Eagles’ Sean McCarthy led all scorers with 23 points, including five of 10 from three-point range as St. Joe’s Long Island hit on 13 of 30 attempts from downtown. Long-distance shots were a favorite weapon throughout the night — including on-court promotions, as Wayne Warmbier, a 2008 Brooklyn graduate, nailed a promotional half court shot to win $10,000.
It was that kind of night for St. Joseph’s Brooklyn, winning the first of many big games in its stunning new athletic facility.
“It’s wonderful to finally have a place we can call home,” said Bears’ head coach Joe Cocozello, a 1995 graduate who has been associated with St. Joe’s for more than twenty years. “I’m thrilled to be a part of all this.”