Stepinac Takes down St. Francis Prep.; Brooklyn's Nazareth Beats St. Ray's

| 03/7/2024

By: Steven Schwankert

Stepinac Coach Patrick Massaroni honored as CHSAA Coach of the Year

Archbishop Stepinac High School senior Johnuel "Boogie" Fland shoots a free throw during Stepinac's 73-52 victory over St. Francis Preparatory School of Brooklyn, March 6, 2024. Fland scored 21 points in the CHSAA "AA" city intersectional semi-final game.
Archbishop Stepinac High School senior Johnuel "Boogie" Fland shoots a free throw during Stepinac's 73-52 victory over St. Francis Preparatory School of Brooklyn, March 6, 2024. Fland scored 21 points in the CHSAA "AA" city intersectional semi-final game. Photo by Steven Schwankert/The Good Newsroom

It was a good night for underdogs with chips on their shoulders.

Pouring rain didn’t seem to reduce the number of high school basketball fans streaming into Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gymnasium to watch New York City’s top teams face off.

The intersectional playoffs pit the Archdiocese of New York’s best boys’ basketball teams against their rivals in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

In the first semi-final game, Brooklyn number two seed Nazareth Regional High School Kingsmen came up against Archdiocese of New York champions St. Raymond’s High School for Boys‘ Ravens.

Nazareth established an early tempo, with St. Ray’s answering, leaving the two teams tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter. Nazareth rebounded consistently, allowing them to keep overall control of the game and its pace, but St. Ray’s stayed close throughout the second quarter.

Was it a coincidence that the Nazareth cheer squad arrived with two minutes remaining in the first half, just as the Brooklyn school took the lead for good? At halftime, it was Nazareth 26, St. Ray’s 23. 

A Nazareth steal began the second half, and a third quarter that saw the Kingsmen take control of the game. The gap stood at nine points with 1:17 to go in the quarter, and remained that way as the period ended, 46-37, ending with a three-point shot.

Down to the wire

The fourth quarter began with a Nazareth steal. But St. Ray’s decided they weren’t done, setting up a sizzling finish. At 5:05, the lead had shrunk to five points, and at 2:15, Nazareth was up only 53-51.

With 10 seconds remaining and the score 56-54, St. Ray’s center Brandon Stores Jr. went to the foul line for two shots. After making the first, he missed the second, with Nazareth grabbing the rebound. St. Ray’s fouled to stop the clock, and the Brooklyn team’s Halon Rawlins sank his two free throws to seal the win, 58-55. Rawlins led Kingsmen scoring with 17 points; Stores topped St. Raymond’s scoring with 24.

Stepinac’s Massaroni, Fland recognized before game

Prior to the second semi-final between the Archbishop Stepinac High School Crusaders and the St. Francis Preparatory School Terriers, Stepinac Coach Patrick Massaroni was recognized as the CHSAA’s Coach of the Year. Massaroni was named Stepinac’s Varsity Head Coach in 2015. Johnuel “Boogie” Fland received the CHSAA “AA” Player of the Year award.

Massaroni, Fland, and the rest of Stepinac’s team then turned their attention to Queens’ St. Francis Prep, the Diocese of Brooklyn number one seed. Stepinac, the intersectional playoffs reigning champion, looked more like a contender than they had in their February 26 archdiocesan title loss to St. Ray’s.

Despite a valiant effort by St. Francis Prep’s Vere Anthony, playing with obvious injury, It was all Stepinac. The Crusaders led 20-12 at the end of the first quarter, and then 39-22 at halftime. In the second half, the Terriers got as close as eight in the third quarter, but 11 points separated the two teams at the end of that period.

In the fourth quarter, the Crusaders cruised, and around the two-minute mark, consecutive dunks with assists by Boogie Fland put exclamation points on the 73-52 victory.

Jasiah Jervis and Boogie Fland both had 21 points for Stepinac. St. Francis’s Anthony had scored 17 points.

Nazareth now faces Stepinac Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m., again at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gymnasium, for the city championship.

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