By Mike Zummo
The Chapel Field boys’ basketball team got off to a slow start, trailing the Roscoe Blue Devils by five points.
But the top-seeded Lions weathered the storm.
They turned up their defense and got their offense going, outscoring the Blue Devils by 14 points in the second quarter on their way to a 60-42 win over the Blue Devils on Wednesday at SUNY Sullivan to clinch their second straight Section 9 Class D championship.
“This means a lot,” said Noah Swart, who scored 19 points for the Lions. “We put in a lot of work, and I’m glad I can see the results of it.”
The results didn’t come easily for the Lions, especially after a slow start that saw the Blue Devils get the early jump on the Lions, opening an early five-point lead the Lions were unable to conquer until the second quarter when they turned up the defense after Roscoe’s Aiden Johnston hit a 3-pointer to give his team an 18-12 lead, their largest of the day.
That’s where it ended. After a Lions’ steal, Mikey Bonagura converted a three-point play to cut Roscoe’s lead in half, and then Jonah McDuffie knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 18.
Anthony Teipeke’s basket restored Roscoe’s lead, but McDuffie knocked down another 3, starting a 9-0 Chapel Field run, giving the Lions a 27-20 lead they would never relinquish.
“They came out hot,” said McDuffie, who scored a game-high 31 points to lead the Lions. “We maintained. We weathered the storm and then we pulled away at the end. They’re a great team to play against. They’re always competitive. They always make it hard for us. But I think when we play our game, we play for each other, and we get things done.”
The Lions and Blue Devils had already faced each other twice in Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division VI play. Both games were at Roscoe Central School, as the Lions don’t have a regulation sized gymnasium.
They won both games: 56-38 on December 20, 2022, and, 58-34, on January 30. Even though, Wednesday’s score was similar, Chapel Field coach Brad McDuffie warned his team could be a trap.
He reminded them of the 2020 Section 9 final against Livingston Manor, when they lost to the Wildcats by 20 during the regular season, and played them to a wire in what eventually became a five-point loss for the Lions.
“I kept reminding the guys, ‘yeah, we won two times at Roscoe, but remember what we did to Livingston Manor a few years back when they beat us twice by 20,’” coach McDuffie said. “Teams make adjustments. They take away your strengths when they’ve seen you two times.”
The Lions returned to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association subregionals and were scheduled to see another familiar opponent, Section 11 champion Bridgehampton Killer Bees on Tuesday at S.S. Seward High School.
“Anything can go in the playoffs, so we just have to be prepared,” Jonah McDuffie said. “We have to play our game. I know Bridgehampton is a good team. We fought against them last year.”
The Lions won that game, 56-47, at Westhampton Beach High School in Suffolk County.
“They were a young team last year, and they’re going to be a tough battle,” coach McDuffie said. “This year, they’re going to come gunning for us. They’re going to want some revenge against us, and they’re probably happy that it’s us. I think they probably had this game circled on their schedule all season.”