Chaz Williams missed the final five minutes of the CHSAA Class A intersectional final with a left shoulder injury. Photo by Errol Anderson
By Dylan Butler (fiveborosports.com)
Bishop Ford boys’ basketball coach John Infortunio got a glimpse of next year’s team a little earlier than he had hoped.
The Falcons played the final five minutes of the CHSAA Class A intersectional final against Iona Prep without star Chaz Williams. The Hofstra-bound senior guard suffered an apparent left shoulder injury and watched from the bench as Iona Prep defeated Bishop Ford, 60-54, in front of a standing room only crowd at Mount St. Michael Saturday afternoon.
The Gaels (26-1) avenged a bitter loss in last year’s final to claim its third Class A title and first since 2002. Williams was also noticeably absent post-game. He didn’t join his teammates in the locker room afterward, instead leaving with his mother.
“I don’t know what happened, I didn’t see it,” Infortunio said. “He said to me that it came out a little bit and went back in, but he had no rotation at that point. I know his mom took him to the doctor from here and I’ll find out what happened.”
Williams left the game with 5:10 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Falcons trailing 55-46. Almost immediately Bishop Ford (21-6) went on an 8-0 run, capped by a Chris Best jumper that cut the Falcons deficit, which was as great as 14 in the first half, to just one with 29 seconds remaining.
But Jordan Bronner (14 points) answered with a dagger, converting a 3-point play six seconds later to extend the Gaels lead to 58-54. Bronner then stripped Lorenzo Brown and went 1-of-2 from the line with 11 seconds left to seal an emotional win for Iona Prep, which dedicated the victory to head coach Vic Quirolo, who was at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle following an emergency appendectomy Friday night.
The Gaels planned to present the championship plaque to Quirolo in his hospital room.
“It was tough,” said Brian Voelkel, who scored a game-high 20 points. “I don’t think there’s a coach who wanted it more. It’s just great to get it for him.”
In his final high-school game, Williams scored 14 points, well below his league-leading average of 25.9 points per game. He didn’t look himself throughout the game, missing badly with jump shots and turning the ball over on critical possessions.
“The kid’s a phenomenal player, an athlete and he doesn’t get tired,” Iona Prep assistant coach Chris Viggiano said. “What we decided to do this time was put pressure on Chaz, four guys in the paint and try and make them hit other shots, hit outside shots.”
The game drew a massive crowd to Mount as fans packed the bleachers and stood on the baseline and in corners for the highly anticipated rematch of last year’s final, won in come-from-behind fashion by Bishop Ford.
The teams nearly played a carbon copy on Super Bowl Sunday, with the Falcons scoring 37 fourth-quarter points to rally from a 26-point deficit after three quarters to lose by three, 83-80, in New Rochelle.
This time, though, there would be no huge deficit to climb back from. Iona Prep scored the first seven points of the game and led the entire way. Ford came as close as one, 47-46, on Matt Hall’s baseline jumper to open the fourth quarter.
But the junior sharpshooter was called for an intentional foul a minute later. Bronner buried both free throws, as did Voelkel, whose layup with 5:24 remaining extended the Gaels lead to 55-46.
“We wanted Ford. We wanted them in the championship game because we wanted revenge,” Voelkel said. “We wanted Ford again and that’s what we got and we got the ‘W.’”
Inside the Bishop Ford locker room after the game, Infortunio told his team how proud he was of them and to remember how great the ride to the championship game was – even though the title game didn’t go their way.
“Nothing you can say to them right now is going to make them feel any better,” Infortunio said. “I told them to not let the plaques they got remind them of the loss, but let it remind them of the hard work that they put in to get to this game.”