Bears Comeback Bid Against Berkeley Falls Short in HVMAC Championship
ALBANY, NY – The St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team staged a late rally in the 2012 Hudson Valley Men's Athletic Conference championship game, cutting a 20 point deficit against Berkeley to four, but their comeback upset bid against the top-seeded Knights fell short, dropping a 91-84 decision on Sunday afternoon at the Albert M. White Gymnasium.
St. Joseph's concludes their season with a 13-14 record and falls to Berkeley for the fifth time in the HVMAC title game. The Bears have advanced to seven straight championship games and were victorious in 2008 over Berkeley and 2010 over Vaughn.
The Bears were paced by a pair of double-double performances from Jan Rogowski (Woodside, NY/St. John's Prep) and David Louison (Brooklyn, NY/St. Edmund Prep). Rogowski led all scorers with 25 points and Louison tallied 16 points, and both grabbed 12 rebounds to share team-high honors. It was Louison's team-leading 10th double-double of the season and Rogowski's second.
Freshman Kevin Alesi (Staten Island, NY/Tottenville) added 12 points, rounding out the Bears in double figures. Seniors Antoine Forehand (New York, NY/Rice) and Justin Gist (Brooklyn, NY/Newsome) added eight and five points, respectively, in their final game in a Bears jersey.
Berkeley (16-8) had all five starters finish in double figures led by Mario Guzman and Jose Stable who had 21 points each. Elijah Craig recorded a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds and was named Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Berkeley broke open a 6-6 tie with a 13-3 run over five minutes, building a double-digit advantage. The Knights led by as many as 13 in the first half on three separate instances, before the Bears gained some momentum before the break, trimming the advantage to seven before heading into the intermission down 40-31.
Rogowski came out of the lockers scoring all Bears' seven points over the first two minutes, but the Knights would maintain their nine point halftime edge and then go on an 11-0 run to balloon the lead to 20, 59-39. Berkeley still led by 20 as late as the 13:29 mark, before the Bears began to chip away at the deficit. A Louison three-point play with five minutes left finally brought the deficit to single digits, 74-65.
After a Guzman layup pushed the lead to 11, Rogowski drained a trifecta sparking a 10-3 run, capped by an Alesi steal and fast break layup cutting the deficit to four, 79-75, with two minutes left.
On the ensuing possession, the momentum seemed to continue to swing in the Bears' favor with Craig fouling out of the game on a double-foul with Louison. But Stable converted a three-point play that gave the momentum back to the Knights. A pair of free throws from Forehand with 25 ticks left brought the deficit back to four, but the Knights would hold off the Bears from the free throw line, going 9-for-11 in the final minute to clinch their fifth title.
Rogowski finished the second stanza with 17 points as the Bears shot 40 percent (18-of-45), but couldn't keep pace with the Knights who shot 53 percent (16-of-30) and finished with 51 percent (30-of-59) for the tilt. St. Joseph's held a 48-42 advantage on the glass, with an even 24 caroms on both ends, leading to 21 second chance points.
In ceremonies following the tournament, Louison and Gist were named to the All-Conference Team and coach Joseph Cocozello was named Coach of the Year.
Despite another heartbreaking loss in the championship, the Bears enjoyed one of their more successful seasons in recent history, producing their highest win total (13) in the past five seasons with several key victories and some near upsets.