Boogie's Last Dance: Stepinac Seniors Sign Off with Champions Challenge Win

| 03/25/2024

By: Steven Schwankert

Crusaders dominate public school champions as Fland, Ritvo head to college ball

Archbishop Stepinac High School senior Braylan Ritvo (holding basketball) received the Most Valuable Player award during Stepinac’s 75-64 win over Brooklyn’s Eagle Academy in the NYC: Public School Athletic League (PSAL) versus Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Champions Challenge, played March 24, 2024, at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus.
Archbishop Stepinac High School senior Braylan Ritvo (holding basketball) received the Most Valuable Player award during Stepinac’s 75-64 win over Brooklyn’s Eagle Academy in the NYC: Public School Athletic League (PSAL) versus Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Champions Challenge, played March 24, 2024, at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus. Photo by Steven Schwankert/The Good Newsroom

Boogie Fland probably didn’t expect that his season would last longer than that of his future college team, the University of Kentucky.

On Sunday night, five seniors — Johnuel “Boogie” Fland, Braylan Ritvo, Aamyr Sullivan, H. Eisley Jr., and Jordan Gabriel put on Archbishop Stepinac High School’s red and black one more time for a new boys’ basketball competition, the NYC: Public School Athletic League (PSAL) versus Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Champions Challenge.

After the Stepinac Crusaders defeated the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Nazareth Regional High School to win their second consecutive CHSAA “AA” City Intersectional championship on March 10, the White Plains school now faced another Brooklyn opponent, the PSAL winner Eagle Academy at Ocean Hill. The Crusaders defeated Eagle Academy twice earlier in the 2023-24 season. 

With the game played at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus, the Eagles’ fan support outnumbered those making the trip from Westchester to support the Crusaders.

Stepinac jumped out to a 20-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. As the second period began, the Crusaders’ hottest hands, Fland and Ritvo, went cold, and over the next five and a half minutes, the Eagles chased down Stepinac and took a 27-26 lead with 2:24 remaining in the half. The two sides then exchanged leads, and were tied in the final seconds when Ritvo hit a three at the buzzer to send Stepinac into the locker room ahead 36-33. 

Ritvo opened the second half with his team’s first two points, and from that point on, Stepinac never trailed. The Eagles stayed within six halfway through the third quarter, but eight unanswered Crusader points in under two minutes put them out of the Brooklyn team’s reach. The third quarter ended 57-39. The fourth quarter saw both teams’ players shooting for stats, and some of Stepinac’s junior players getting some time on the court. The contest ended with the Crusaders victorious, 75-64.

It was a standout game for Ritvo, who had been a steady hand for Stepinac throughout the season. He took home the game’s Most Valuable Player award, leading the scoring with 23 points. Fland followed with 21. Eagle Academy senior Ajani Flemming topped his team with 20.

Stepinac’s season ends with a win in the new Champions’ Challenge competition; a second consecutive CHSAA “AA” City Intersectional championship; runner-up in the CHSAA “AA” archdiocese championship; CHSAA Coach of the Year for Patrick Massaroni; and CHSAA “AA” Player of the Year for Boogie Fland. Fland ends his high school career as Stepinac’s second all-time point scorer.

“This was a special group from start to finish. They brought it every single day — practice, games, everything. Thanks to my staff for all their efforts and a special thanks to the seniors as they leave as champions,” Massaroni told The Good Newsroom. “We will enjoy this season and start preparing for next season in a couple weeks.”
 
Fland now goes on to the University of Kentucky, where he’ll look to make an immediate impact after that team exited the NCAA men’s basketball tournament early following an upset loss to Oakland University. Ritvo committed to Division I Quinnipiac University and will play there. 

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