New St. Margaret-St. Gabriel team wins CYO tourney

Takes Bantam Division hoops title with St. Barnabas win


While last year’s merger of St. Margaret of Cortona and St. Gabriel schools meant the end of the rivalry on the basketball court, students and family got another treat this year.

The newly combined team – St. Margaret of Cortona-St. Gabriel – returned to the Catholic Youth Organization Bronx County Championship in the Bantam division at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School last weekend as an undefeated team.

This time the new team defeated St. Barnabas 24-20 for the title. For the former St. Margaret players and Coach Sean Brown, it was the second straight year they took home the trophy.

A year ago, St. Margaret and St. Gabriel competed against each other in the title game. St. Margaret emerged victorious in a thrilling 29-25 victory at the same venue.

During this year’s championship game, spectators were on the edge of their seats. The first and second quarters saw both teams scoring two buckets each.

St. Barnabas and St. Margaret, perennial rivals, engaged in a fierce battle on the court. Coach Brown and Luis Amador, St. Barnabas’ coach, not only share a strong friendship but also witness their children and former basketball teammates adding an extra layer of intensity to the rivalry.

As the game progressed, both teams made a resounding comeback after the third quarter. Sean Brown’s impressive three-pointer, considered second in the Bantam division, changed the entire tempo of the game.

The players showcased their unwavering dedication, with Charlie Chartier dominating the rebounds and thwarting any attempts by St. Barnabas to gain an advantage.

Hudson Cruz played his heart out, being one of the younger players on our team. His defense was unmatched against many of his peers who are older by a few months. Cruz Galeas and Logan Olaizola had outstanding steals.

Brown described how his players were able to muscle through when the game was on the line late in the contest.

“Late in the game, there was a timeout called by Barnabas, and I told my team, ‘Let’s finish this game, be disciplined,” Brown said. “We have a little over one minute left. If we do what we’ve practiced all year, this game is over. I want you to know when the game is over, we’re not going to celebrate right away.

“We are going to line up and shake hands because I want everybody to know we have class. When the game ended, I took a second to look around and fully absorbed the whole moment.

“I looked at every kid, saw all the joy in them, and that is the first time I experienced tears of joy. I didn’t cry, but I almost did. I love them all, and I’m happy to share that experience with them.”

Assistant Coach Sean Riley shared some thoughts on why this year’s victory was important to the school.

“It was pretty good for the school because of the merger of both schools,” he said. “They came together and made it happen. We are proud of what they accomplished.”

Head Coach Brown explained what made the difference for his team and how they overcame some challenges this year.

“Possibly (there were some challenges), but for this team, St. Barnabas, we’ve played each other so many times that it comes down to who wants it more,” Brown said after the game.

He recalled how St. Barnabas defeated his team in last year’s Christmas tournament and how his players learned from that experience.

“Recalling the players who endured past sorrows at the Christmas tournament (not part of the CYO season), where we succumbed to Barnabas. I persistently questioned them about why we lost, and they knew because we broke it down.”

Prior to the game, Brown described how it felt to have reached the CYO title game in only his first season as head coach.

“At the moment, I feel good. I am anxious for the game to begin,” Brown said. “I know all of my nerves are from excitement, but I am also trying to stay in the moment to enjoy what’s taking place.”

When asked if there were any lessons learned or growth areas for the team, Coach Brown mentioned developments off the court.

“Absolutely, everything the boys learned this season can be directly applied to their lives,” Brown said. “I speak to them with respect because they understand and respond to the truth. They learn to be accountable, work hard for what they want, and ask questions.”

St. Margaret of Cortona School, St. Gabriel School, boys basketball, CYO, tournament, St. Barnabas, Sean Riley, Sean Brown