By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Ludden guard drawing attention
This high-school basketball season may be remembered as the year of the guard in Central New York with such high-profile names as Greg Paulus of Christian Brothers Academy recently making a verbal commitment to Duke University and Josh Wright of Utica-Proctor declaring for Syracuse. Having no less of an impact for his team this year, however, has been Bishop Ludden point guard Terry Smith.
Going into a game against resurgent Oswego Saturday, Smith was averaging 20.9 points per game, but coach Patrick Donnelly stressed that his impact goes beyond his scoring prowess. “Terry is one of the better players in the area, he’s done a lot for us this year,” Donnelly said. “He’s matured on the floor, obviously he can score points, but he’s very good at giving the basketball — he’s averaging five or six assists per game and three or four steals. And he didn’t rebound well tonight (against Oswego), but he’s a good rebounder so he’s a complete basketball player right now.”
Against Oswego, Smith was uncharacteristically cold from the floor, but showed glimpses of his ability. Early in the game, he drove into the lane off the perimeter, pulled up short, and reared up to push a delicate floater into the net. When his shot was failing, Smith was dangerous driving into the lane and drawing the attention of Oswego’s players down low, before kicking the ball back out to open players on the perimeter. “Last year he was primarily a scorer, but his year he’s getting the ball to right person and he’s making very good decisions with the basketball and that’s what makes him so tough,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly relayed that in the Gaelic Knights’ Christmas Tournament, his team drew St. Joseph’s, a solid Buffalo area team, and prevailed 53-49 with Smith scoring just 11 points, but dealing nine assists. With Smith marshalling an array of solid players, the Gaelic Knights were among the top teams in the Colonial American Division at 8-2, 12-2 overall. Prior to the 55-43 loss to Oswego, they were ranked No. 13 in the state. Currently, Colgate and Le Moyne are among the schools interested in Smith, but with improved test scores, he might attract interest from Ivy League caliber schools.
Brothers Take Loss
Paulus shines, but McQuaid prevails in state semifinal rematch
Despite getting 34 points from All-State point guard Greg Paulus, the Christian Brothers Academy varsity boys basketball team was unable to avenge its 2003 state tournament loss to McQuaid Jesuit Sunday, Jan. 18 in the Image Capital Shootout at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena. In last year’s postseason, the Brothers advanced to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class A Tournament semifinal at the Glens Falls Civic Center and fell to the Knights 58-52.
In the Blue Cross Arena, the Knights won 73-58. It marked the Brothers’ third loss of the season. Paulus, who has named Duke University as his college of choice following graduation in 2005, was disappointed that his team was unable to avenge the postseason loss. “I’m disappointed,” he said. “I kind of wanted to come out and get a little revenge from last year at Glens Falls where I didn’t play real well and that ended our season. That was heartbreaking to me and my teammates so we wanted to come out and get a win here.” Paulus was 5-for-7 from outside the 3-point arc, but scored four of those within the first half.
CBA coach Buddy Wleklinski noted that his team was still trying to put the ball in the hands of its standout guard, but he was not getting the open looks McQuaid had conceded in the first half. He also noted that his team had suffered from missing a number of poorly challenged shots early in the game. “We were just trying to get him the ball,” the coach said. “We were getting him the ball, he just wasn’t getting the same looks that he got in the first half. Greg played well. If we had a couple of those shots early, I think it changes the complexion of the game.” McQuaid took control of the game in the first quarter with guard Jim O’Sullivan capping off a 19-10 effort with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Shooting woes plagued the Brothers early as they often set up for open looks, but were frequently unable to get fortunate rolls on the rim. “We were tentative, for whatever reason, I thought that early on we did [miss shots with open looks],” Wleklinski said. “We had a couple of open looks and made jump shots that just didn’t fall.”
CBA surged back into contention in the second, however. With CBA down 32-22, then Paulus hit two 3’s in response to a banked shot by McQuaid forward Andrew Struble, cutting the lead to six points again. In the third quarter, CBA ran neck and neck with the Knights, matching their 16 points. With his team down 47-37, Paulus needed little help in pulling the lead back to within five points near the quarter’s close. On a breakaway lay-up, the point guard was dealt with harshly by McQuaid’s Trevor Coffey near the basket, but he made the Knights pay when he hit both the lay-up and the free throw for a three-point play. On the Knights’ next possession, Paulus burst into the backcourt and stole the ball for another fast-break lay-up, narrowing the gap to five points. At that phase, Wleklinski said he saw a glimpse of hope for a win, but a dominant fourth-quarter performance by the Knights put it out of reach. “It was tough. Even in the third quarter where we got it to five at the end of the quarter and then didn’t get a shot. Then in the fourth quarter, same thing, we really didn’t get a good shot in,” the coach said. Wleklinski hopes that playing against teams such as McQuaid in the competitive atmosphere of the Image Capital Shootout will help season a team that, outside of Paulus, had very little in terms of game experience coming into the 2003-04 campaign. “Any time you play a game like this it’s going to make you better and that’s what we’re looking to do. Somewhere down the road they’re going to pay off,” the coach said. Since the loss to McQuaid, CBA returned to league play to weather a stiff challenge from upstart Nottingham. The Brothers won that contest 68-67.