Mount Carmel School 1 stunned Kagman High School, 57-51, in the championship match in the 2018-2019 Commonwealth Coalition of Private Schools Association Varsity Basketball League last Friday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
After a close battle in the first half, the second-seeded Knights overwhelmed the No. 1 Ayuyus in the second to hoist both the All-Island and CCOPSA varsity boys championship trophies.
The Knights clung to narrow leads at the end of the first two quarters, 13-12, and 24-20, before gaining more cushion in the third canto, 42-29. Matthew Richardson generated 5 consecutive points in the pivotal third canto, while Mikel Johnson and Chioni Dela Cruz also contributed in handing the Knights a 13-point lead, going into the final canto.
The Ayuyus fell behind by a baker’s dozen, as they were held to single digit scoring and four field goals in the third period. Kagman then rallied in the fourth quarter behind Dean Blake and Henry Aguon with the former scoring 12 points and the latter adding 7 in the team’s final push. However, the Knights’ double-digit spread coupled with the timely baskets from their key players in the fourth canto were more than enough to keep their safe distance against the Ayuyus.
Richardson led the Knights’ charge with his 25 points, 12 of which came from his perfect performance from the charity stripe. He was later named All-Island and CCOPSA MVP.
“I felt humbled and honored winning those awards, but I really wanted to share them with my teammates, because all in all, it was a team effort, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Richardson said.
Dela Cruz and Johnson also contributed to the Knights’ triumph, as the former netted 14 markers and the latter finished with 9 points. Blake accounted for over half of Kagman’s output, as he posted 27 points. The rest of the Ayuyus didn’t offer much help, as Aguon and Magofna managed to put up just 9 and 8 markers, respectively.
Johnson drew first blood in the finals with his putback. Keith Santos then swished both of his shots from the foul line, while Dela Cruz connected on his lay ups and free throws for his 6 points, and Richardson ended the quarter with an and-1 play for Mt. Carmel’s 13-12 advantage. Blake shouldered Kagman’s offense with his 8 markers.
In the second period, Blake continued to carry much of the scoring burden, adding 6 points, while J.D. Magofna was the only other player who hit the board for the Ayuyus in that meltdown.
In contrast, Richardson drew help from teammates in the second quarter to keep their squad on top and the Knights played even better in the final two periods to complete the upset and reap the fruits of the countless hours of practice they put in for this season.
“Going into the game, we knew we had a lot of doubters, so having to deal with that, and overcoming those types of obstacles felt great,” said Richardson, as they lost to the Ayuyus twice in the elimination round.
“Every time we practiced, we always worked as a team to get better each time. Richardson said. “Going through drills, as well as working on our offense and defense helped boost our confidence entering the championship.”
The league MVP thanked their coach and supporters for helping them rule the competition.
“Of course, it all starts with our coach, Coach [Francis] San Nicolas, because without him, none of this would be possible,” Richardson said. “This season was also successful because of the entire Knight family that supported us and cheered us on to victory. Mount Carmel is an amazing school and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.”
MCS 1 57—Richardson 25, Dela Cruz 14, Johnson 9, Evangelista 5, Santos 4.
KHS 51—Blake 29, Aguon 9, Magofna 8, Quitano 3, Lifoifoi 2.
Scoring by quarters: 13-12, 24-20, 42-29, 57-51.