Regis and the Park School of Buffalo met at Fordham University in the CHSAA Class B state championship on Saturday. The Raiders had a slightly shorter ride to the Rose Hill Gymnasium, about six hours shorter to be exact, and two schools battled for all 32 minutes.
The long road trip had little effect on the Pioneers as they topped Regis 48-43 to secure a state title.
“I have honestly got to say that Regis is the best team we’ve beat all year. No doubt,” Park coach Mike Battaglia said. “I like the way they play. I like the way they’re coached. They play hard, they hit the floor, they’re on the glass. It’s a physical game with them and that’s the kind of game I like to coach in.”
Park came out playing a zone defense and had a significant length and height advantage, which made things difficult for Regis in and around the paint. Despite the size advantage, the Raiders still managed to get big man Mike Cerone touches in the paint. But rather than scoring, Cerone was looking to dish the ball to his shooters.
The Regis offense was creating shots, but they just weren’t falling. Regis went 4 of 16 from the 3-point range in the first half and kept it close as a result.
Park led 23-19 at the half.
Regis’ reliance on the 3-pointer was their undoing in the second half. After watching Park shoot 1 for 8 from deep in the first half, Regis was 1 of11 from behind the arc in the second half.
Charles Gavigan scored a game-high 19 points for the Raiders but he was the only Regis player with more than two made field goals.
Liam Hogan personified the Raiders day. Hogan was the grittiest player on the court, hitting the deck for loose balls and playing outstanding perimeter defense. Hogan finished with 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, but only 3 points.
Regis came out strong in the third quarter and tied the game at 34-34 heading into the final period.
Park junior forward Jordan Nwora, who represented Nigeria in the 2014 Nike Global Challenge, was up for the challenge. Nwora drained a pair of three-pointers early in the fourth quarter and forced Regis into a position where they had to chase points as time ran down.
“It was just one of those moments where you had to be clutch,” Nwora said. “I play a big part offensively and I knew I wasn’t doing my part in the first half. I knew I had to step it up in the second half. It feels really good. I’m a transfer and in my first year here we won a state championship.”