By Kevin Cox and Kevin Devlin
On Saturday, March 17, at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, the Gate of Heaven CYO junior basketball team eked out a hard-fought, overtime victory against Saint Mary’s of Franklin, 68-64, to capture the 2018 CYO state championship. It was a great way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day for the hometown heroes.
Saint Mary’s had three assistant coaches with 3 iPads, 14 players, and parents with scorebooks in the stands. Gatey came in with only seven players due to an injury to Danny Potember and a death in Eric Pance’s family. Saint Mary’s was well-represented because they had two teams playing against each other in the next game. It didn’t feel like Gatey was playing at a neutral site.
Early in the game, Gatey trailed by ten points but quickly cut the deficit to four. It was neck-and-neck for the rest of the game including overtime, a legitimate dogfight. Franklin’s scouting helped their defense. It payed dividends as it was difficult for Gatey to get going offensively.
“They packed it in when we changed our offense to match their defense,” Coach Kevin Cox stated. “Every possession felt so important, like the game was on the line. Overall, we did a pretty good job of limiting our turnovers. What was difficult was keeping our emotions in check and the kids focused. The Franklin players were chirping at our players and the fans yelling at them started to frustrate our kids. Our offense really feeds off our stellar defense and with four out of seven players with four fouls and twelve minutes to go in the game; our help defense could not be as strong.
“Before the game went into overtime there were two key turnovers on each side adding to the intensity late in the game,” Cox added. “But in overtime we finally freed up our guards. They hit two big three’s putting the pressure back on Saint Mary’s who came back with a quick deuce. At this point (my) players took it upon themselves, noticed a mismatch and scored two more points. Franklin came right back but in the end Gate of Heaven won by four.
“I can’t give enough credit to the entire team,” Cox further said. “I am so proud of the way the boys held their cool and finished game. The referees called a pretty tight game. The players thought that every call was going against them, (some were ticky-tack calls in my opinion) that the fans were against them, parents against them, but we kept reminding them what was at stake and that they just needed to focus on the game. One place where the refs did a good job is they realized the magnitude of the game so they gave the kids a little bit more freedom with their frustrations and didn’t take it out on any of them.
“The only thing that’s disappointing to me in a game like this is the game goes by so fast and when you have a hot hand out there, sometimes even with seven players, you don’t get kids enough playing time,” Cox concluded. “And that’s the worst part of coaching.”
KEVIN COX EMAILED YOU THE TEAM PICTURE
Pictured at Catholic Memorial gym is the Gate of Heaven boys’ junior CYO State Champions. Pictured from left to right are; Gate of Heaven CYO Athletic Director, Kevin Lally, Father Matt Williams, Coach William Crowley, Xavier Nunez, Zack Mitchell Linden Cox, Bobby Delaney, Logan Crowley, Joey Brink, Maturi Mwangi and Coach Kevin Cox. (not pictured: players Eric Pance and Danny Potember.)