Lions Capture NYS Federation Championship
Lions defeat Albany Academy 55 - 51 to win the first NYS Federation of Champions title in Staten Island boys high school basketball history
Monsignor Farrell's varsity basketball team begins to celebrate after capturing the New York State Federation A boys' championship following a 55-51 victory over Albany Academy on Sunday. The Lions became the first boys' team in Staten Island history to win a Federation basketball crown. (Kara Buzga for the Staten Island Advance)
SIlive.com article by Charlie De Biase Jr.
Click here for additional photos by Stephanie McCauley from ISmiles Studio
They call him steady Eddie and it was only fitting that Eddie Loughlin, who epitomizes Monsignor Farrell’s concept of play, was stepping to the free-throw line with the game on the line.
Those free throws, mind you, were not only two of the biggest in Farrell history, but all of Staten Island.
“I knew it was a big moment — one that every kid dreams of,’' said Loughlin, who was looking to make it a two-possession game against Albany Academy with just 10 seconds to play. “It’s an exciting moment, but I felt confident.’'
And it showed.
The senior guard buried both ends of the crucial one-and-one as the Lions held on for a 55-51 victory over the Cadets in the New York State Federation A boys’ tournament championship game Sunday at Guilderland High School.
Farrell, which also received 18 points apiece from seniors PJ Scalisi (8 for 12 from the field, five rebounds, four assists) and Timmy Manuelian (three threes, five rebounds), not only ended its highly successful season with a 24-6 record, but made history when it became the first team in Staten Island history to capture a boys’ Federation title. In addition, Farrell became the first CHSAA city team to win an A crown since Mount St. Michael of the Bronx did it in 1995 (it was the B then, which was the equivalent of A today).
Following Sunday’s victory, the Lions earned their third championship of the 2022-23 campaign. Dunn’s troops took home the CHSAA A Intersectional and Catholic state titles earlier this month.
Monsignor Farrell senior Eddie Loughlin, right, received congratulations from Farrell assistant coach Jay Zieris shortly after hitting the game-clinching free throws in Sunday's NYS Federation A boys' championship game victory over Albany Academy. (Kara Buzga for the Staten Island Advance)
“It’s just a special feeling. I’m so happy for all the kids,’' said Farrell coach Mike Dunn, who also earned his 210th career win with the Lions to leave him within one triumph of tying former coach Bob Besignano for the school record. “It’s never easy winning a championship. There’s so many things that have to go right and to me, it’s more fortune than luck because you make your fortune by the way you play.
“It’s just an incredible group of kids who care about each other and I know that every former player feels part of this win and season because they all walked the same path and know what it takes to accomplish such a great championship.’'
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, to say the least,’' added Scalisi, who averaged 20.5 ppg, in the Lions’ two Federation games. “We played for each other from the first day of practice and always work hard. I think that’s why we’re champions.’'
“We’re champions because we worked hard from day one, even through adversity,’' said point guard Andrew Melillo, who added 10 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Lions. “I don’t think anybody thought too much of us at the start of season, but we put in more work than anybody else on the island, city or state and that’s why we’re here.’'
Farrell, which advanced to the championship via a 55-47 victory over Transit Tech on Saturday, got off to a sizzling start Sunday behind Melillo, who scored eight of his 10 in the opening stanza to help give the Lions a quick 13-4 lead. For the second straight game, the Lions sizzled from the field (52.3%) as they connected on 23 of 44 shots.
Monsignor Farrell point guard Andrew Melillo (3), seen above taking an elbow jumper, scored eight of his 10 points during the first quarter of Sunday's NYS Federation A boys' championship game against Albany Academy. (Kara Buzga for the Staten Island Advance)
Although the Lions never pulled away, they did own leads at the end of the first (15-9), second (27-24) and third quarters (41-34) thanks primarily to Scalisi (12 points) and Manuelian (seven points). Dunn’s troops got the lead back up to nine midway through the final period (45-36) thanks to Scalisi and Manuelian, but the Cadets, who have won several Federation titles through the years, wouldn’t go away.
“We got an early lead, but Albany hit a barrage of threes at various times and just kept coming back,’' said Dunn of the Cadets, who had five treys over the last three quarters.
Albany (15-7), in fact, turned up the heat in the final minutes and once again crept back into the game. To make matters worse, Scalisi fouled out with 1:40 to play, although the Lions still led by five (52-47) with under a minute to play.
Manuelian added a big free throw to make it 53-48 with 29 ticks left, but Albany, who was led by Cyrus Matia (15 points) and Bobby Chandler (13 points), hit a free throw, then got a late bucket to cut the Lions’ lead to 53-51 in waning seconds.
Monsignor Farrell senior Timmy Manuelian, right, who tied teammate PJ Scalisi for a game-high 18 points, hit a big free throw in the final minute for the Lions during Sunday's NYS Federation A boys' championship game against Albany Academy. (Kara Buzga for the Staten Island Advance)
The Cadets wound up fouling Loughlin with 10 ticks on the clock and the senior guard went to the line for a one-and-one.
“I told him, (take the shots) like in the gym by yourself. Drain them,’' laughed Dunn. “He said, ‘I got this coach.’'
Loughlin calmly sank both to make it a two-possession game and provide the final score.
“Like I said, you dream of it,’' added Loughlin, who finished with seven points overall. “It was time to step up. Once I hit the first one, the second one felt even better when I let it go.
“It feels great, it’s really hard to describe it,’' he added. “I’m glad we made history and that I was in the middle of it.’'
Monsignor Farrell coach Mike Dunn raises his arms in triumph as he approaches guard Eddie Loughlin after the senior buried two late free throws to clinch the Lions' NYS Federation A boys' championship. Farrell defeated Albany Academy 55-51 on Sunday. (Kara Buzga for the Staten Island Advance)
Dunn, who received big minutes from Jake Conroy, Kenny Maira, Nick Hakanson, Seth Clarke and Daniel Hyland, was most proud of how his team responded each time the Cadets made a run.
“Every time they came at us, we had an answer with big plays. I think they never had a lead on us,’' said the coach. “They shot the heck out of the ball, but we kept cool. We kept our composure and stayed the course to get the victory.
“I told the kids in the locker room after the game, ‘you never folded,’' added Dunn. “The whole season, no matter what we encountered, we never folded regardless if we won or lost. We did that throughout this game too and that’s why we’re champions.’'
#3 Andrew Melillo, 5’9” Guard • #25 PJ Scalisi, 6’2” Forward • #32 Nick Hackanson, 6’1” Forward
#1 Matt Milone, 5’8” Guard - Junior • #2 Tim Manuellian, 6’1” Guard - Senior • #4 Seth Clarke, 6’2” Forward - Sophomore • #5 Ed Loughlin, 5’11” Guard - Senior • #10 John Driscoll, 5’8” Guard - Junior • #11 Jack Mallon, 5’9” Guard - Junior • #15 Dan Hyland, 5’9” Guard - Senior • #21 Mike Yannaco, 5’7” Guard - Junior • #22 Jack Conroy, 6’2” Forward - Senior • #24 Del Bobish, 6’0” Forward - Junior • #40 Ken Maria, 6’1” Forward - Junior • #42 Joe Sporacio, 5’11” Forward - Junior • #44 Aiden Farmer, 6’4” Center - Junior • Jack Lyons, Manager - Junior
Head Coach - Mike Dunn
Assistants - Dan Fisher ’05 • Bill Falkenhainer ’07 • Damian Murphy ’13
Jay Zieris • Tom McGoff • Steve Fenley • Ed Letendre '70