Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Cardozo, Christ the King Could Reprise Classic in SNY Invitational
NEW YORK — Ron Naclerio doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.
The Cardozo coach knows that both his team and Christ the King must win their first games on Friday in the SNY Invitational at City College before they can envision a rematch of their instant classic from a week ago.
But if Christ the King knocks off Brentwood at 6 p.m., and defending SNY Invitational champion Cardozo takes care of Mount Vernon at 8, the two teams will meet on Saturday for the second time since Jan. 23. Last Friday, Cardozo beat Christ the King, 67-65, when Monmouth-bound guard Ray Salnave fed Aaron Walker for an alley-oop layup at the buzzer.
“I don’t want to disrespect Brentwood and I don’t want to disrespect Mount Vernon but after what happened here Friday night that would be fitting to get a chance to play them again,” Naclerio said this week. “I know they have their version of what happened, we have our version of what happened. But I think it would be great for New York City basketball.”
**For more info on the SNY Invitational, click here.**
With five seconds left in the game and the teams tied at 65, Salnave stole the ball from Tyson Walker and sprinted down the court. He was stripped as he attempted a layup to beat the final horn, but the officials put one second back on the clock, setting up his baseline inbounds pass to his teammate.
Aaron Walker penetrated from the left wing, soared over Christ the King’s Tracy Cleckley and tipped the ball in with his right hand, sending the Judges bench and cheerleading squad storming onto the court to celebrate.
“I told him I wanted the shot,” Salnave said of Naclerio’s drawing up the winning play. “But he knew if I was on the court for the last play, they would have denied me as best they could. They didn’t know what to expect.
“I said it’s time to show that you’re the best defender in the city and one of the top players in the city,” he said of Walker. “And tonight he proved it. That play requires mental toughness, but he stayed focused and made sure he followed through.”
As Cardozo celebrated, a stunned Royals team slowly trudged to the locker room while coach Joe Arbitello followed the referees off the court, screaming at them for a few moments.
“I’m not a big believer in rematches,” Arbitello said this week. “I’m worrying about Brentwood, and then whether it’s Cardozo or Mount Vernon” we’ll go from there.
Still, Naclerio knows another matchup could be looming.
“If we could have a better game [with CTK], that would only be fitting,” Naclerio said. “But we’re not there yet. I’m not sleeping on Mount Vernon. I know Mount Vernon’s real good, they got a lot of young kids that can play. They’re going to play hard.”
SNY INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONS
2014: Bishop Loughlin
2013: St. Anthony’s
2011: St. Anthony’s
2009: Mount Vernon
SNY INVITATIONAL MVPS
2015: Ray Salnave – Cardozo
2014: Khadeen Carrington – Bishop Loughlin
2013: Hallice Cooke -St. Anthony’s
2011: Kyle Anderson – St. Anthony’s*
2010: Kadeem Jack – Rice
2009: Sherrod Wright – Mount Vernon
2008: Lance Stephenson – Lincoln*
* – Currently in the NBA.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.