New York High School: Brian Bernardi

Bernardi still planning on going to SMU

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
11:27
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Xaverian senior guard Brian Bernardi still plans on attending SMU, in light of the recent firing of coach Matt Doherty. He currently has no intention of asking out from his signed National Letter of Intent, but said there is a possibility that could change.

"I'm still going to SMU right now," Bernardi told ESPNNewYork.com Saturday before participating in the Battle for the City. "I'm just waiting for the new coach and I'll talk it over with him and my parents but I'm still going to SMU right now."

SMU fired Doherty on March 13 following a 13-19 season, his sixth year at the school, and has yet to hire a new coach. Bernardi, a sharpshooter, wants to see who the new coach is and talk with him before making any final decision about his future.

"It was tough because I built a good relationship with him and he came to a lot of my games and he's seen a lot of them," Bernardi said of Doherty. "It's something you have to deal with and I have to see who the new coach is."

Bernardi said that Doherty called him when he was fired and they talked about the situation. The senior said he likes the school a lot and likes the direction of the program. SMU, currently in Conference USA, is slated to join the Big East in 2013.

He plans on going to Dallas on June 31 for a month of summer classes and he's been in contact with coach Jerry Hobbie, who was not fired from the staff.

"It's a little tough waiting but right now I'm just training and trying to get it out of my head," Bernardi said. "It's a waiting game right now."

Bernardi said he has been working out a lot as he prepares college, trying to become more athletic. He's also been working on his ball handling and continuing to improve his shot.

The sniper averaged 18.5 points this season for Xaverian, which finished the season 18-10. He was named first-team All-CHSAA by the league.
The Catholic High Schools Athletic Association's message was heard loud and clear.

After the league advised its players to not play in Saturday's Battle for the City, which had billed as a game between the best of the Public Schools Athletic League and the CHSAA, only five Catholic league players showed up for the event. At least 20 CHSAA players had been slated early in the week to play in the game.

Instead of a strictly CHSAA team, a team constructed of CHSAA and PSAL players was thrown together, and that team fell to the PSAL All-Stars, 110-91, on Saturday at Baruch College.

THE HISTORY: The CHSAA advised its players not to play for fear of the game being unsanctioned as well as rule that says underclassmen cannot play in All-Star games unless there is a tryout. The five players who showed up were all seniors.

Event organizer, Funsport Inc. CEO Rickey Rivers, said that he talked to the NCAA about the contest and was told it did not need to be sanctioned since there would be no college coaches attending. He also said there were no problems with seniors playing in the game since they're allowed two All-Star Games.

The CEO, who at one point asked if CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens President Ray Nash was there, also disputed that an underclassmen's eligibility would be in danger if they played.

"I called the NCAA compliance office when I put together this event and went though all the things, had my checklist in order, I knew exactly what was needed to pull of this event because I've done these things several times," Rivers said. "The things they used against me were not valid points, and that was the point I think I was a little disturbed about."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The PSAL team jumped out to an early edge, leading 56-42 at halftime, and cruised to a win.

Pathways Preps junior center Jordan Washington earned MVP honors for his 22-point effort while Boys & Girls forward Leroy "Truck" Fludd had 16. Satellite Academy senior guard Stanley Cepedes led the CHSAA/PSAL team with 21 points.

"It was a lot of fun," Washington said. "There were some top players in the country and I knew I had to come out here and play ball."

ONLY FIVE FROM THE CHSAA: The five players were the CHSAA were Xaverian guard Brian Bernardi, Mount St. Michael guard Malik Gill, and St. Raymond's trio of guard Myron Hickman, and forwards Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro.

Hickman, a late addition, didn't agree with the CHSAA.

"Basically I felt like what they were doing was kind of wrong, telling some of the top kids in the CHSAA they can't play," Hickman said. "I wanted to help out Rickey and I've known him for a long time and that kind of played a factor as well, and I didn't want his event to turn out not to be a good one so I came."

THE OTHER GAMES AND EVENTS: The Blue team defeated the White team, 82-56, in the "Future Game" featuring top freshman and sophomores. Boys & Girls freshman Jamie Killings scored a game-high 30 points in a win.

Okoro won the 3-point shooting contest while Fludd took home the slam dunk crown.

MOVING FORWARD: Rivers envisions this event continuing and said he would make some tweaks if he were to do it differently, including not using the league names.

"I'm very happy for how it turned out. I expected there would be a little bit of turbulence despite everything that was said and going on around it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, it was a fun event and what I expected it to be. Fun for the kids and celebrating New York City basketball, some of the best kids on display, that's what you want to see."

Rapid Reaction: Jefferson 73, Xaverian 64

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
7:37
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Coming off one of his more fiery coaching performances, Jefferson’s head coach Bud Pollard was a lot more subdued facing Xaverian on Saturday in the 8th annual Rucker High School Invitational. On Wednesday against St. Anthony (N.J.), the coach got into an altercation with a player's father.

“He was calm,” Jefferson’s Jaquan Lynch said. “It was weird seeing him like that, I think he took some of that chill juice.”

On the court, his team couldn’t be further from subdued as it played an energetic game, coming from behind to beat Xaverian 73-64 in front of about 100 people at Wadleigh High School in Harlem.

THE BIG SPARK: No. 1 Jefferson (22-6) trailed for most of the game, but late in the third quarter Lynch’s shot came alive. He hit a jumper to tie it at 45-45 with just 2:01 left in the third. Then, 25 seconds later off a steal, he raced down court and the 6-foot junior slammed down his first dunk of his league career to put the Orange Wave up 47-45.

Seeing its teammate dunk for the first time, the Jefferson bench erupted. Just 22 seconds after, Lynch unleashed a three-point shot that put Jefferson up by five and put Xaverian (16-8) away for the night.

“I felt it,” said a smiling Lynch, who finished with 16 points. “I was a little hyped so I just bit my lip, took my power steps and just dunked it. Woke me up, my jump shot came on after that. It just got me hyped and I got into the game, started throwing a couple of assists, my team was hitting, and we won the game.”

BIG BAD BERNARDI: Before Lynch took over the game, Brian Bernardi was punishing Jefferson with his shooting skills. The SMU-bound guard had 23 points overall including four three-pointers.

“Brian is more than just a shooter,” Xaverian head coach Jack Alesi. “Teams get into trouble when they think of him as just a shooter. He makes tough shots that not a lot of kids can make though. No doubt, the kid is a great shooter.”

Jefferson couldn’t stop his shot, but it held him to just two points in the fourth quarter by keeping him away from the ball. With Thaddeus Hall guarding him in the end, Bernardi didn’t manage a single field goal attempt that quarter.

THREES WERE CONTAGIOUS: Hall has a great shot, but he is more known for his ability to drive through the lane than to pull up and take a shot. Against Xaverian, he was lighting it up from behind the arch, hitting four three-pointers throughout the game as he piled up 22 points.

“The beginning of the season I was missing a lot of shots,” Hall explained. “I've been driving more than I've been shooting. Now I've been working on my shot because (Nazai Stokes) is more of a drive guy not so much a kick and I’ve been playing with him more.”

BUILDING MOMENTUM: Jefferson had won 12 in a row before its loss to St. Anthony’s (N.J.) on Tuesday. With the PSAL playoffs looming, its players talked about the importance this win had on its confidence.

“A lot of us are still hurt from what happened that night on Tuesday," Hall said. "We got back in the gym, went over some plays. I really felt that we could have beat that team, we had them until (the fight between Pollard and Jalen Evans’ father, Ken Evans) happened.

“Heading into the playoffs, you want to come in with some confidence and some hype so it's good to start a little winning streak off at the end of the season.”

UP NEXT: Jefferson has one more tune up before the PSAL playoffs, a scrimmage against Brooklyn Collegiate on Wednesday. Xaverian will face St. Francis Prep in the Brooklyn/Queens Tournament.

Severe tops record as CTK beats Xaverian

January, 8, 2012
1/08/12
6:48
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Behind UConn bound Omar Calhoun, Christ the King came into this season ranked as one of the best teams in New York State.

Things didn’t start out so smoothly though. The Royals won three out of their first four, but then dropped back to back games after Christmas and it was clear that a change was needed. In that second lost to Chester things came to a head.

As the Royals were trying to make a late game comeback, Isaiah Lewis hit a basket to pull them to within three, but then followed that up with a technical foul that killed their momentum as they went on to lose the game.

After that play Royals head coach Joe Arbitello tore into Lewis a little bit and told the junior that he needed to start playing like a true point guard, looking to make plays and deferring to the team’s star Calhoun. Lewis apparently got that message because both Calhoun and Arbitello credit that incident as a turning point in their season. “Isaiah is turning into a real point guard and that just makes the entire team better,” Arbitello said.

That’s exactly what happened on Sunday night as Lewis was able to find Jon Severe (27 points) and Calhoun (22 points) open all night long en route to a 79-67 Christ the King (7-3, 3-0) victory over Xaverian (8-2, 2-1) in Queens in our ESPN New York Game of the Week.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: This game was a straight shootout as both teams were shooting three’s early and often. There were 14 three-pointers in the first half of the game. Christ the King’s Calhoun had three, Severe had four. Xaverian wasn’t far behind as Brian Bernardi had two and Dillon Burns had three. That was at the half.

In the second half it was more of the same as Severe hit four more, tying a school record set by Larry Davis back in 2006. When both sides were done there were 23 three-point shots in total, 12 from Christ the King and 11 from Xaverian. Unfortunately for Xaverian, Christ the King had more depth and got big contributions from the paint by Calhoun and Jordan Fuchs (13 points), which ultimately made the difference in the game. Xaverian's Shakeel Kemp made it interesting late in the game as he picked up 13 of his 19 points in the second half, but ultimately it was too little too late.

TURNING POINT: It was a close game early on as there were eight lead changes in the first quarter. The difference then and probably in the game was Calhoun. He finished up the final minute of the first catching fire, he hit a three-pointer, a layup, and another three-pointer consecutively to finish on a lone 8-0 run that was the difference the entire game.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Calhoun gets most of the ink on this team, but once he’s gone the team and the press will belong to junior Jon Severe. Severe was hot all night as he tied the school record for most three-pointers in one game. He came close to hitting his ninth in the final minute of the game, but missed on his last two attempts. “My wrist felt good,” Severe explained of his surgically repaired right wrist. “Every day I feel good, I'm icing my wrist now. I'll just keep doing it after every game.”

UP NEXT: Christ the King’s next game is in a tournament down in Springfield, Missouri this Thursday. Xaverian heads back home where it will take on Molloy on Tuesday.

Game of the Week: Xaverian at Christ the King

January, 6, 2012
1/06/12
2:26
PM ET
WHO: No. 4 Christ the King vs. No. 7 Xaverian

WHERE: Christ the King

WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.

WHY IS THIS GAME IMPORTANT: This will be the first of two meetings between the two teams that should be fighting for the Brooklyn/Queens division title. So far each team has fared well against non-league opponents, but they are starting the portion of their schedule against their league opponents. Those games can often be just as tough or tougher than games against non-league opponents, even if they aren't as flashy, due to the rivalries that have built up over the years. And this is one big rivalry.

Christ the King has the big name in Omar Calhoun, who is committed to UConn. He has averaged 22.5 points per game with 6.75 rebounds and 3.375 assists per game. He is hardly alone out there though as Jonathan Severe has 13.75 PPG Isaiah Lewis has 10.5 PPG. Xaverian is not quite as deep as CK, but they have strong leadership in Dillon Burns, who has averaged 18.125 PPG, and Brian Bernardi, who has put up 16.75 PPG.

The two squads were both 1-1 against each other last season, with both teams winning on the road. It was the second time in three years that Xaverian went into Middle Village and won. They might be able to make it three times in four years after a hot start to this season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Christ the King senior guard: Omar Calhoun
Christ the King junior guard: Isaiah Lewis
Christ the King junior guard/forward: Jonathan Severe
Xaverian senior guard: Dillon Burns
Xaverian senior guard: Brian Bernardi
Xaverian senior forward: Shakeel Kemp

COACHES:

Christ the King: Joe Arbitello
Xaverian: Jack Alesi

HOW THEY GOT THERE:

Christ the King (5-3, 1-0)

Dec. 3: 92-81 win over Jefferson
Dec. 10: 64-59 loss to Boys & Girls
Dec. 17: 58-56 win over Troy
Dec. 28: 81-67 win over St. Rita (IL)
Dec. 29: 76-65 win over Wings Academy
Dec. 30: 73-41 loss to Neumann Goretti (PA)
Jan. 1: 65-53 loss to Chester
Jan. 3: 73-52 win over Molloy

Xaverian (7-1, 1-0)

Nov. 23: 77-41 win over Banneker
Dec. 9: 64-44 win over Ford
Dec. 11: 70-42 win over Holy Trinity
Dec. 23: 65-64 win over Stepinac
Dec. 27: 83-56 win over Estrella Hills (AZ)
Dec. 28: 54-50 loss to El Toro (CA)
Dec. 30: 63-44 win over Scottsdale Christian (AZ)
Jan. 2: 58-54 win over Wadleigh

CHSAA AA SF: St. Raymond 59, Xaverian 49

March, 3, 2011
3/03/11
11:39
PM ET
NEW YORK--In a game that appeared as if St. Raymond’s would run Xaverian out of the gym, it was surprising to hear the winning team preaching about defense.

But when St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua called timeout with 5:58 left in Thursday night's CHSAA intersectional tournament quarterfinals, and what looked like a blowout transformed into a scary four-point lead, he reminded his team how it earned a lead in the first place. And what would get it on the court at St. John’s University next week.

“Teams make runs in the playoffs,” Antigua said. “They’re a good team. I give them credit. They were down and they made a good run.”

St. Raymond’s held on to beat Xaverian, 59-49, Thursday night in the CHSAA AA intersectional quarterfinals at St. Francis Prep in Queens.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Antigua said he took some advice from his brother, Orlando, an assistant coach at Kentucky, remembering that Xaverian had shot the lights out in St. Raymond’s gym earlier this season. Xaverian hit 13 three-pointers and won 81-64. Orlando Antigua told his brother to let Xaverian have the two-pointers. Just take away the threes.

The problem for Xaverian was it couldn’t make the twos either.

The Clippers missed a truckload of layups and shot a dismal 4-for-30 in the first half. Xaverian’s Brian Bernardi arrived minutes late to the game. Dillion Burns started in his place and Bernardi seemed absent from the game until he scored five straight points with about 4:30 left in the third quarter that started a 13-4 run that cut the lead to six headed into the fourth. Xaverian coach Jack Alesi called it a “cosmetic run.”

“It’s usually pretty predictable,” Alesi said. “A team goes down 20, makes a run, runs out of gas. The bottom line is the bottom. They just outplayed us from start to finish.”

That’s not completely true though. Xaverian finally found their offense in the third quarter and cut the lead to four, 42-38, with 5:58 remaining. That’s when St. Raymond’s sophomore Shane Rector stepped in.

TURNING POINT: Xaverian looked like it had a chance to steal the game after a layup by Manny Thomas cut it to four. But a layups by Nkeruwem Okoro and Myron Hickman, back-to-back baskets by Rector, and a couple more missed layups by Xaverian later and St. Raymond’s posted a 13-2 run that put the Ravens ahead by 15 with a minute remaining.

“We knew that if we guarded the way we did in the first half that we were going to alright,” said Rector, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. “Coach kept telling us that we were going to win the game if we keep playing D.”

STAR OF THE GAME: Daniel Dingle did everything he could to put the team ahead when it stepped on Xaverian early and everything to try to hold the fort when the lead was in danger. He finished with 21 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks, including 8 of the team’s 17 first-quarter points.

“Today it was big,” he said. “They came to our house and blew us out, embarrassed us in front of our 1991 alumni. We just had to get payback and move on to the next level and St. John’s.”

BIGGEST SURPRISE: That outside of his spurt in the third quarter, Bernardi never really got into the game. He hoisted three three-pointers that all front rimmed in the second quarter. He scored just nine points.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “It’s too easy to say we weren’t ready to play. We were ready to play. We just didn’t play well. Sometimes it’s more mental than it is physical. If I had the answer to all that, I’d go write a book on how you get ready to play.” - Alesi

Christ the King 73, St. Peter’s 46: Omar Calhoun led the Royals (20-6) with 24 points and 7 rebounds. He also scored his 1,000th career-point on a thunderous one-hand slam with 2:02 left in the first half. He scored 10 points during an 18-3 run that put the game away in the third quarter.

UP NEXT: Christ the King will play St. Raymond Wednesday at St. John’s University in the semifinals.

Brooklyn/Queens playoffs: HC 62, Xaverian 60

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
11:06
PM ET
NEW YORK--Evan Conti held the ball at the top of the arc. Anyone in the gym that’s seen the Holy Cross senior play knew what was coming.

He drove right, then spun left – the patented move that Conti built his name on. And more often than not, when he uncoils, Conti is shooting. But this time, with the entire season on the line, Conti dumped the ball off to Marcus Hopper for the go-ahead layup with 30.5 left, to give the No. 3 Knights a 62-20 win over No. 2 Xaverian Wednesday night in the Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA semifinals at Christ the King in Middle Village.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Xaverian led only twice in the game, but the second time came with 44.2 left to play when Brian Bernardi hit a 12-footer from the left corner to give the Clippers a 60-59 lead. Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary didn’t call timeout. He put the ball, in Conti’s hands, called a clear-out and let Conti decide his team's fate.

When Conti went into his spin move, Xaverian’s Manny Thomas and Travis Gill beat him to his spot. But Thomas left Hopper under the basket for an open score and a 61-60 edge. Xaverian had a chance to score, but Gill bobbled a pass that landed right in Xaverian coach Jack Alesi’s hands. Conti ran eight seconds off the clock before the Clippers could foul him in the backcourt. He hit the first of two free throws to extend the lead to 62-60.

“They knew a lot of my counter moves,” Conti said. “They were denying all the counter-moves I had. The last play of the game, I spun and both Travis and Manny came right at me. They left Marcus wide open. Me and Marcus have been playing together forever. We know where each other are going to be.”

Xaverian had the ball with 4.3 seconds left but could only muster a desperation three-pointer that careened off the backboard at the buzzer.

Holy Cross certainly lived by the three. Conti opened the game with the first 2 of 9 three’s for Holy Cross. Will Davis hit three three-pointers, while holding Xaverian’s sharp shooter, Brian Bernardi, to just one. Davis finished with 13 points.

TURNING POINT: The Holy Cross defense kept Xaverian’s Thomas and Bernardi quiet for most of the night until Bernardi scored an and-one layup with over Anthony Libroia. Bernardi followed that with a three from the left corner that ignited a 10-2 run in which he scored eight and put his team ahead by one, 60-59, in the final minute that set the stage for Conti’s heroics.

“We did a pretty good job on Bernardi, I thought,” Gilvary said. I thought Will Davis really did a good job guarding him. But when you play a kid like Bernardi, or Manny Thomas for that matter, a very talented offensive player, you can’t shut them out. They’re going to score their points.”

STAR OF THE GAME: Conti did everything star players do in big games. He set the tone early with back-to-back three-pointers. Then, with the game on the line, he drew the defense and found Hopper, who wasn’t shooting well, for the basket that set his team to the Brooklyn/Queens CHSAA championship final.

Conti finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: To Gilvary’s point, Will Davis held Bernardi in check for three quarters. Bernardi finished with 17 points but had just six ended into the fourth. The biggest surprise was that Thomas didn’t have a bigger impact in the game. Thomas scored 9 of his 11 points in the first half.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I just knew he was gonna be there. Even though he didn’t make a lot of shots, he made the biggest shot of the game.”--Conti said of Hopper

No. 1 Christ the King 72, No. 4 Bishop Loughlin 46: A layup by T.J. Curry with 3:28 left in the first half started a 12-0 run for the top-seeded Knights as they routed Bishop Loughlin. Christ the King scored the first 10 points of the game and the first 10 points of the fourth quarter. Omar Calhoun led CK with 28 points. Travis Charles led the Lions with 12.

UP NEXT: Christ the King will face Holy Cross in the championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: No. 5 Rice 50, Xaverian 45

January, 23, 2011
1/23/11
7:40
PM ET
NEW YORK - Xaverian came in hot with wins off against No. 2 Christ the King and No. 6 Holy Cross, but no. 5 Rice put an end to the Clippers mini winning streak as it beat them 50-45 at Xaverian in Brooklyn on Sunday.

"We didn't want to underestimate them and let them get an upset win against us," Jermaine Sanders said. "We just wanted to play hard, play smart and not let them do to us like they did against Christ the King."

Sanders lead the way both offensively and defensively for Rice as he was the only one from his team to score in double digits, putting up 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds with one assist.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: This game was all Rice (10-6) in a low-scoring first half. The Raiders came out with a big first quarter, taking a 15-9 lead, behind Sanders who scored seven points in the quarter and helped his team keep up the offensive pressure with multiple offensive rebounds.


In the second quarter, there was even less scoring. Xaverian opened up the frame on a 4-0 run that lasted the first five minutes of the quarter, but then Rice bounced back, thanks again to Sanders, to score 12 points in the final three minutes of the half to make it 27-16.

In the second half the intensity just wasn't the same from Rice as it allowed an 11-point lead to evaporate. Xaverian actually outscored Rice 29-23 in the second half as Immanuel Thomas and Tyler Newton finally got hot.

They tied the score at 45 with two minutes to go, but let the game slip away with sloppy play including offensive fouls and a crucial pass that ended up in the stands.

"It's a game of momentum," explained Rice head coach Dwayne Mitchell. "We came out and played good defense early in the first half and it gave us momentum we were up by 11 at the half. But they're the home team, they came out at the half and picked up some shots and it gave them momentum. We were fortunate to take it back with some good plays at the end of the game."

TURNING POINT: Xaverian had all the momentum in the fourth quarter, but with the score tied at 45, the Clippers lost it all when Travis Gill took an offensive foul with just 1:51 left to go. After Joshua Gomez hit a jump shot to take a 47-45 lead, Xaverian was left to foul Rice and unfortunately for Xaverian, Rice's shooters, Sanders and Devaughn Reid, went 3-for-4 from the line as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

"You got to make those free throws," said Sanders, who was 8-for-10 from the line. "At the end of the game that's clutch. That helps win games. It's why I work so much on my free throws. I'm a good shooter and I know that when you get to the line those are important shots."

STAR OF THE GAME: Rice's Sanders not only lead the game offensively with 18 points, but his 16 rebounds were too much for Xaverian. On both sides of the ball Sanders was able to help his team sustain offensive pressure and take away second chances on defense. It was just too much for Xaverian to handle.

"Jermaine is coming around after he kind of got off to a slow start," Mitchell said. "He injured his ankle and he's still coming back from that. He's just starting to get his groove back."

BIGGEST SURPRISE: As much damage as Xaverian was able to do in the second half, they could have done more. In the fourth quarter, Gill and Brian Bernardi hit back-to-back 3-point shots and that kind of caused them to fall in love with that shot, but they never hit another in the game.

QUOTE: "It says something about the league. This league has some good teams and no lead is safe in this league. You have to work hard, make stops and you can't afford to break down defensively."--Mitchell

NEXT WEEK: Xaxerian is back in action Tuesday on the road against Archbishop Molloy. Rice doesn't play again until Friday when it takes on No. 3 Boys and Girls High School in a big matchup at Long Island University.

###


No. 7 Holy Cross edges No. 9 Xaverian

January, 9, 2011
1/09/11
8:33
PM ET
NEW YORK – When Holy Cross center Marcus Hopper went to bench with 17 seconds left in Sunday's game against Xaverian, it took awhile for him to finally make his way to a seat. Senior guard Evan Conti was the first pat the 6-9 Hopper on the head and tell him how great he played, how he had made the difference in Holy Cross' 71-60 road win against No. 9 Xaverian Sunday.

Hopper said he lost a night of sleep over Friday’s demoralizing loss to St. Francis Prep. Xaverian (6-3, 0-2) also dropped a game at the buzzer to Bishop Loughin Friday, and Clippers coach Jack Alesi said both teams were due for a bounce-back game.

Only one of them could get it, though.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Most of the credit goes to the Holy Cross defense. An out-sized Marquise Moore drew the assignment of neutralizing Xaverian’s Manny Thomas while Will Davis was responsible for quarantining standout guard Brian Bernardi. Moore and Davis held Thomas and Bernardi to a combined nine points.

“They took the other team’s best players out of the game,” Hopper said. “Without them we wouldn’t have won.”

Holy Cross (9-4, 1-1) clamped down especially at the start of the fourth quarter when Xaverian scored only its second field goal of the quarter with 2:48 left to play and most of the Clippers’ starters already on the bench. Holy Cross KO’d the Clippers with a 16-3 run to start the fourth quarter.

TURNING POINT: Moore was regulated to the bench after picking up his third foul guarding Xaverian’s Thomas with 4:41 left in the first half. But when Moore returned in the third quarter and Hopper found his offense, the Knights became increasingly harder to contain.

Trialing by one point, Hopper scored on back-to-back layups with 5:30 left in the third as part of an 11-2 run capped by 15-foot jumper by Moore. The stretch gave Holy Cross a 41-34 lead and it never trailed again.

STAR OF THE GAME: Hopper has both the size and touch around the basketball – highlighted by a smooth left-handed hook shot – that should make him the big man in city. But the consistent aggression in the paint hasn’t always been there.

That was not the case in the second half Sunday, where the senior scored 14 of his team-high 18 points and finished with 16 rebounds and two blocks.

“Today Marcus was a Division I player,” Holy cross coach Paul Gilvary said. “Part of (the inconsistency) is our fault. We have to get him the ball.”

And once the Knights began to feed the paint, Hopper started to feast on both ends of the court.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Hopper said. “I just want to get rebounds first and play defense. But when I’m getting the ball it just gives me even more confidence that I can help the team.”

BIGGEST SURPRISE: After giving up a 15-point first quarter lead to Bishop Loughlin on Friday, it was shocking that the Clippers didn’t come out the gate with more urgency. They gave up eight straight points to start the game then allowed Holy Cross to score the first five points of the second half.

“In my mind we spotted them 13 points,” Alesi said. “The same thing happened on Friday. I’m not a rocket scientist but there’s a problem there.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The problem begins with defense, ends with defense and will continue to be defense,” Alesi said. “Right now we can’t guard a CYO team.”

UP NEXT: Holy Cross travels to Middle Village to take on No. 1 Christ the King. Xaverian will face St. Francis Prep on the road Friday.

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