Earlier in the season, Guess Who, led by longtime CYO coach Phil Favata, crushed The Crusaders, who are coached by former Msgr. McClancy standout Joe DiBenedetto.
But in the finals, The Crusaders came out of the gate with quick intensity, and held a slim lead in the middle of the first quarter, as John Gianessis scored four early points for the squad.
But Guess Who went on a run of their own before the end of the quarter, and held a 12-8 lead after Daniel Zalot hit a corner three-pointer. Stingy defense on the part of Guess Who forced The Crusaders to go cold, and the team could only muster four points in the second quarter.
Guess Who enjoyed a 26-12 lead at the half, but after Jaden Jenkins hit a ten-foot jumper from the corner to mark the start of the third quarter, the Crusaders reeled off six straight points off press steals.
But that still wasn’t enough, as Guess Who led 40-25 at the end of the third quarter.
The Crusaders made it exciting, whittling the lead down to seven with two minutes left. After an inbounds steal, Marco Battaglia hit a three-pointer from the corner to make the score 45-41 with 1:27 left.
But after Hershimer hit a layup, Jenkins followed with a three-pointer to make it 52-47 with 25 seconds left. Guess Who would tack on three more for a 55-47 win.
The high scorer for Guess Who was Sebastian Santos with 15 points, while John Gianesses led all Crusaders scorers with 14.
NY Future takes 12 & Under crown
In the 12 & Under division championship, Queens Finest, coached by Junior Guevara, faced off against Sean Murray and Omar Cercado’s NY Future.
Both teams got off to a hot start, combining for 22 points in the first quarter, with NY Future leading 13-9. In the second quarter, Queens Finest big man Jack Vasquez scored four straight points to tie the game, but the good ball movement and balanced scoring of NY Future gave them a four-point halftime lead.
In the third quarter Kelvyn Sanchez dominated, scoring six points to push Future to a nine-point lead. The fourth quarter saw runs by both teams, and Queens Finest narrowed the lead to four, but Future’s Marcus Cercado and Toby Pascual hit two back-to-back three-point shots to push the lead to 12 late in the fourth.
Future would eventually win 50-35. Queens Finest big man Don Colon did all he could in the loss, scoring 10 points and hauling in 10 rebounds
EBC Outlasts Hurricanes in Heroes 17s
In what many hoops scouts called the most talented Heroes 17 & Under division in years, the championship game saw the Hurricanes, helmed by Chris Mullen, face off against EBC and coach Kevin Vurgos.
EBC jumped out to a 13-5 lead in the first five minutes after a thunderous dunk by Jerry Vargas. Vargas then added 10 straight points in the paint to propel EBC to a 17-point lead to start the second quarter.
EBC’s intense defense and transition offense pushed the lead to 20 midway through the second quarter, but Hurricane’s Chris Iovino, who was Player of the Week in week four of the regular season, used his quickness to score five straight at the rim.
Hurricane swingmen Gustavo Guillen and Isaiah Williams narrowed the lead to 15 late in the second quarter, and then shooter Armin Cocunajin nailed a three-pointer to close the lead to 12 at the half.
The lead remained at ten points for most of the third quarter. The Hurricanes isolation offense, controlled by Iovino and Guillen worked at times, but was stagnant overall.
They cut the lead to six, but then EBC big man and Championship MVP Jerry Vargas, began to dominate in the paint, sealing the deal for EBC. Vargas went coast to coast and finished at the rim to push the lead back to double digits midway through the fourth.
Iovino hit two late three-pointers to cut the lead to four, but EBC guard Isaiah Rodriguez controlled the ball and the lead for EBC, who in the end edged out the Hurricanes by four.