Chaminade took the upset special off the menu on Sunday.
Sixth-seeded Kellenberg had threatened to turn the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA boys basketball season on its ear by winning both of the previous two days’ playoff games to reach the semifinal against the No. 2 Flyers. However, Chaminade overcame the emotional blow of a midgame injury and got a lift from a Hall of Fame name to score a 64-47 victory at the Flyers’ Activity and Athletics Center.
Chaminade (8-4) will host No. 4 St. Mary’s in Monday’s title game at 6 p.m.
Sunday’s game had to be halted for almost 30 minutes in the first quarter after junior Greg Cantwell went up against several players for a rebound and came down holding his left leg. As Cantwell was wheeled off the court to an ambulance, his Flyers teammates came bursting out of their locker room and ran to the sidewalk to see him off.
Cantwell’s message, according to senior Cooper Francis: "Just win this game — that’s all that matters."
"That’s all he kept saying while he was lying there on the court and it’s what he said to us outside," Francis said. "We had to bring it home for him."
Chaminade led by 13 twice in the first half, but couldn’t shake the Firebirds (3-10) until sophomore Dave DeBusschere got hot from the three-point arc. DeBusschere — yes, he’s the grandson of the late Knicks great — made four three-pointers and had 14 of his 16 points in the third quarter as the Flyers broke the game open.
"He’s got [guts] and he isn’t afraid of the moment," Chaminade coach Bob Paul said of DeBusschere.
All of the 14 points came in a 16-7 run that gave Chaminade a 52-36 lead going into the fourth quarter. His first three made the score 39-29 and his last capped the burst.
"When it’s going in, it’s just going in and you feel it — my guys kept finding me," DeBusschere said. "It’s tough when you see a teammate go down, so we wanted to be there for him. This is how we could."
"These guys are connected. This is the strangest time we've ever lived through and they’ve had to worry about each other all season," Paul said. "We had quarantines. We had adversity. This was another bit of it, but they support each other."
Deepak Edmonds had 15 points and Francis had eight points, six assists and five rebounds for the Flyers. Ethan Greenwood had 14 points and SeanMichael Wilcox had 12 points for Kellenberg.
Chaminade came into this season looking to win the championship for pride. Now it has a second reason to win in Cantwell. "We’ve just got to win the championship round tomorrow," Francis said. "It’s given us the momentum and motivation we need."