Stepinac Tops Brooklyn's Nazareth to Win Second Consecutive City Intersectional Title

| 03/11/2024

By: Steven Schwankert

The Crusaders’ season will continue March 24 when Catholic high school champions play their public school counterparts in a new tournament

Archbishop Stepinac High School Crusaders boys’ varsity basketball players and coaches pose with their trophies, after winning their second consecutive CHSAA City Intersectional “AA” title.
Archbishop Stepinac High School Crusaders boys’ varsity basketball players and coaches pose with their trophies, after winning their second consecutive CHSAA City Intersectional “AA” title. Photo by Steven Schwankert/The Good Newsroom.

Despite a nail-biting third quarter, the Archbishop Stepinac High School Crusaders prevailed over Brooklyn’s Nazareth Regional High School Sunday to win their second consecutive Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) “AA” City Intersectional championship.

The City Intersectional playoffs pit the top teams in the Archdiocese of New York against their rivals in the Diocese of Brooklyn for a city-wide boys’ basketball tournament. 

For the third time in a week, Stepinac, the reigning intersectional champions, and Nazareth returned to Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gymnasium, which hosted this year’s tournament. Stepinac was looking for redemption after losing the archdiocese championship to St. Raymond’s High School for Boys in February. Nazareth defeated St. Ray’s on Wednesday, March 6 in a semi-final game to earn their shot at the city title.

Both teams looked jittery during a low-key first quarter. Stepinac senior standout Johnuel “Boogie” Fland scored the game’s first four points as the two teams felt each other out. Stepinac led 16-11 at the end of the first quarter. 

The White Plains school hit its stride in the second quarter, opening up first a 21-11 lead in the first 90 seconds, and extending to 27-15 with 3:27 left in the first half. The two teams went to the locker rooms at halftime with Stepinac up 32-24.

The second half began with each team missing shots at opposite ends of the court, before Stepinac’s Danny Carbuccia made an easy layup. From that point, Nazareth went on a 9-3 run that cut the Stepinac lead to one point, 36-35, with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter. Stepinac Coach Patrick Massaroni called timeout to break the Nazareth momentum and give his team a moment to regroup.

The strategy worked. Fland scored the next two points, and by the end of the third quarter, Stepinac led 48-38. However, the run changed the atmosphere in the Fordham gym, and even late in the fourth quarter, Stepinac supporters, wearing red for the occasion, cheered with cautious optimism.

They needn’t have worried. With 5:11 left in the game, Stepinac led 56-38, ultimately winning 66-51. 

While Fland led Stepinac scoring with 18 and took home the Most Valuable Player plaque, the Crusaders owe their second title in two years to twin performances by sophomore guards Jasiah Jervis and Hassan Koureissi, both of whom scored 15 points and seven rebounds. 

For Nazareth Holon Rawlins had 12 points with six rebounds and two assists, and Tristan Rogers scored 11 points with four rebounds.

Sunday’s game was originally going to be the last high school contest for Fland, Braylan Ritvo, and other Stepinac seniors. However, a new tournament announced on March 8 by the Public School Athletic League and the CHSAA will see the Catholic school AA, A, and B division champions play their public school counterparts for a definitive, all-city championship. A schedule for the games has not yet been released.

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