By Jerry Del Priore
You couldn’t wipe the smile off the face of Bishop Loughlin head coach Edwin Gonzalez after his Lions routed the Holy Cross Knights, 90-67, Tuesday night at home in their final game of the CHSAA basketball regular season.
It was arguably one of the best contests Bishop Loughlin played all season long. It had Gonzalez beaming with satisfaction as he feels his team is hitting its stride at the right time, especially since it played just its second game on its home court after renovations were finished a few weeks ago.
“I think our goal was to play better at the end of the year,” Gonzalez said. “And we want to play better going into the playoffs. It helps to be back on our court, too.”
The Lions had four players who posted in double digits, and played unselfish hoops throughout the tilt, pleasing its head coach with its unified hardwood performance.
“That’s what it’s going to take to win in this league. You got to have team effort,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s important that it’s not dominated by one person. It takes a team to win. I think that’s what we’re understanding now and recognizing and playing better as team.”
Junior forward Julian Champagne dropped in 21 and junior point guard William Lee had 20.
Bishop Loughlin raced out to 14-5 lead as Champagne nailed back-to-back three-pointers with 5:09 left in the first quarter. The Lions increased its advantage to 32-14 after Lee drained a trey near the end of the first period.
Bishop Loughlin continued to thump Holly Cross in the second quarter, going into the locker room ahead by the score of 56-35.
Justin Champagne sunk a basket that help Lions swell its lead to 70-49 with under two minutes to play in the third period. Bishop Loughlin finished out the quarter ahead, 72-53.
With its second stringers in, in the fourth period, the Lions didn’t let up, as its backups played quite well, earning the team a dominate 23-point victory in the end.
Lee drilled five shots behind the arc, accounting for 15 of his 20 points, while Champagne banged in three of his own, for nine of his team-leading 21.
“I waited patiently, and my time has come,” Lee explained. “I was kind of hot today and feeling it, so I let it go. I felt I had a good game.”
Lee, a Queens native, believes this win was just the beginning of something special for his club.
“I feel very confident as a team now,” he said. “We were learning at the beginning of the season, and now getting better as a team, as a unit. So, going forward, we’re going to get even better. Xaverian is a very good team, but it’s winnable game.
Bishop Loughlin will travel to Xaverian Monday night for the first round of the CHSAA Class “AA” playoffs.