GOSHEN – This is a business trip. That was John S. Burke Catholic boys’ basketball coach Doug Janeczko’s message to his charges after Monday’s practice.
Burke Catholic (18-4) takes on Long Island’s Amityville (21-2) in the semifinals of the Class A state tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday in Glens Falls. Indeed, this is a business trip. The Eagles hope to close the deal on a state championship.
Bishop Ludden (Albany area) and McKinley (Buffalo area) play in the other semifinal at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Semifinal winners meet for the Class A championship at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Burke Catholic might be all business, but the Eagles still might have some fun. After practice, players talked and laughed about room assignments in Glens Falls, and what snacks they were packing for the road trip. The Burke Catholic team mom better make a quick trip to Sam’s Club.
“We will bring Twisty Cheetos, Gatorade, Gushers, water, Fruit Roll-Ups, bananas, you don’t want to be cramping up on the court, apples, stuff like that,” Burke Catholic senior guard Patrick Joyner said.
Burke Catholic is making its fourth straight trip to the state semifinals. The Eagles represented Section 9 as a B school the previous three seasons, winning the state championship in 2011. Burke Catholic lost in the semifinals to Watervliet last March.
“It’s very exciting going up there again,” Joyner said. “We’re not just going up for a vacation. We are going up there to win two games and that’s about it.”
Burke Catholic beat Amityville 66-51 in the Upstate-Downstate Challenge in December of 2011. However, Burke Catholic coach Doug Janeczko and Amityville coach Jack Agostino both expect a much closer game. Amityville’s only two losses have come to New York City power Wing’s Academy and Mansfield – a big-time squad from Massachusetts.
Agostino has more than 450 wins in 26 years at Amityville and won four straight Class B state titles (2000-03). Under Agostino, Amityville lost to Jamesville-DeWitt 56-52 in the 2004 Class B state championship. Agostino even has a win over LeBron James. Amityville beat James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School of Akron, Ohio 84-83 in the championship game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament in Lewes, Del. A.J. Price, now playing for the Washington Wizards, was a sophomore on that team.
Jason Fraser, who went on to play at Villanova, had 28 points and 18 rebounds for Amityville, against LeBron and St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High. I spoke with Agostino via phone Monday night. Great guy. Check back for more this week on Amityville, Agostino and, of course, Burke Catholic.