St. Anthony’s will have none of this ‘rebuilding’ talk.
Yes, the Friars’ boys team is the defending CHSAA Diocese of Rockville Center champion. And yes, they lost all five starters from that team. But as junior standout Andre Snoddy said “there’s no reason we can’t compete for another championship. We may have to rely on each other more because we’re very young, but no one thinks we’re not good enough.”
St. Anthony’s looked very good on Monday afternoon in taking down Scarsdale — a first-tier public school — in a 49-44 non-conference victory that extends its win streak to five. Luke Rossi’s three-pointer in the final minute of the third quarter broke a tie at 38 and Snoddy scored the Friars’ final eight points to finish with 22 and get them through a tenuous final minute.
Snoddy added 10 rebounds, Rossi had six points and five assists, and 6-7 center Louis Stallone had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for St. Anthony’s (12-5).
Jayshen Saigal’s three-pointer pulled the Raiders (10-4) within 47-44 with 55 seconds left when it became a chess match. Friars coach Sal Lagano had his club run 24 seconds off the clock, and after a play that resulted in a missed trey, had them use two extra fouls to shorten Scarsdale’s last possession to 11 seconds. Saigal (17 points), missed a game-tying three and Stallone hit Snoddy for a dunk before the final buzzer.
“We love defending and grinding the games out,” Snoddy said.
Rossi, one of three sophomores in St. Anthony’s eight-man rotation, might have been the team’s top playmaker but his defense turned the tide. The Raiders’ Cole Kattan had 12 points in the first half before Lagano acted on an assistant coach’s suggestion to put Rossi on him. He was a nuisance, holding Kattan (16 points) to one basket over a nine-minute stretch when the Friars’ built a 46-38 lead in the fourth-quarter.
“I live for assignments like that,” Rossi said. “I give those my all.”
“He can be very disruptive,” Lagano said. “That was our best switch. He did a great job. It was the right choice.”
Chaminade and Holy Trinity are the more-seasoned teams in the Diocese, but St. Anthony’s took a step with a road victory at Trinity to start the win streak. Lagano said this young team with sophomores Rossi, Angelo Andino and Christian Daley showed him something in that one: “You can tell a lot about players when they face a good team in a [tough] environment and they found a way to get comfortable.”
“This team works too hard to think ‘rebuilding.’ We have a natural confidence,” Rossi said. “We should be worrying about competing for championships, not rebuilding.”