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Brendan McGuire propels Chaminade to CHSAA crown

The Chaminade boys basketball team celebrates after defeating Holy Trinity in the CHSAA championship at Hofstra on Tuesday Feb. 28, 2017. (Credit: Newsday/Ari Kramer).

Not all losses are devastating.

You can get up, dust yourself off and prove that you learned from your mistakes.

That seemed to be the case for the Chaminade boys basketball team, which allowed 92 points in its loss to Holy Trinity on Feb. 14 but kept the Titans off the offensive glass and finished defensive possessions Tuesday night at Hofstra.

The end result: a dominant 85-65 win for the program’s second CHSAA title in three years and a berth in the state semifinals.

“We let up 92 points that game and we realized we had to play defense,” said Brendan McGuire, who scored 18 points and dished out six assists and was named the playoffs MVP. “It was just a big motivation to come back today and play defense.”

The No. 1 Titans (19-7) had scored 70 or more points 13 times this season, with four performances in the 90s.

But the No. 2 Flyers (20-5) forced four turnovers in the first quarter alone — after the Titans turned over the ball just five times in their semifinal win over No. 5 St. John the Baptist. Chaminade also limited its turnover total to 10, dominated the boards and kept Thornton Scott (22 points), Camren Wynter (14) and Tyler Small (14) from heating up at the same time.

“I think we came out and we needed revenge,” said Bobby Connors, who scored 20 points. “We lost to them. We got out-rebounded in the first game at Trinity when we lost. We’ve been hyped up. We’ve been getting ready for this game for a long time.”

With Chaminade’s packed student section that filled up nearly 30 minutes before tip-off at their back, the Flyers converted 5 of 8 three-pointers in the first quarter. They were 9-for-15 for the game. McGuire’s three off a feed from Michael O’Connell (17 points) with 33 seconds left in the quarter gave Chaminade a 25-13 lead.

The Flyers stretched their lead to 16 in the second quarter, but Scott scored 14 points in the period to keep Holy Trinity close. His three-pointer with 1:02 left cut Chaminade’s lead to 37-32.

While Chaminade kept Holy Trinity off the offensive glass for most of the game, the Titans were not as effective. They allowed a pair of second-chance opportunities on Chaminade’s final two possessions of the half, and O’Connell and Connors each scored two points apiece to stretch the lead to 41-32.

Holy Trinity never got closer than eight points thereafter and Chaminade led 60-51 at the start of the fourth quarter. Then McGuire, Connors and O’Connell each converted three-pointers in the first three minutes for a 69-54 lead.

“We hit a lot of key shots from three today,” Connors said.

But really, it all began with the emphasis on defense.

“I’ve had teams where a loss can be devastating and I’ve had this year where a loss was helpful,” coach Bob Paul said. “I think it brought guys back to understanding that we need to do certain things better.”

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