Justin Champagnie scored 29 points, as Bishop Loughlin held off defending CHSAA and New York State Federation champs Archbishop Stepinac 84-75 in a battle of CHSAA heavyweights in Brooklyn on Sunday.
It was Loughlin's home-opener, a welcomed event after the Lions played without a home court last season due to renovations at the Fort Greene gym.
The decisive factor in this game was Loughlin's offensive rebounding. The Lions were simply relentless on the offensive glass throughout, with Justin Champagnie, Julian Champagnie and Tyshawn High all racking up second-chance points and Stepinac struggling to contain on the backboards.
Despite the challenges in the paint, RJ Davis, Matt Brand and Ed Sanchez gave the Crusaders enough offense to overcome a 23-7 deficit at the end of the first quarter, narrowing the margin to 44-35 at the break.
Davis matched Justin Champagnie's game-high 29 points, consistently getting into the lane and converting contested shots at the rim.
Although Davis, Brand and Sanchez kept Stepinac within striking distance until the final minute, Loughlin's offensive efficiency proved to be too much for the Crusaders. An overwhelming portion of the Lions' points came from shots at close range around the rim, with Justin Champagnie bringing the crowd to its feet with several picturesque two-handed dunks. Julian Champagnie complimented Justin's effort with 18 points, while Jaheim Young had 16 for Loughlin. Brand scored 15 points and Sanchez finished with 14 for Stepinac.
The Lions are now 2-0 and will host St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn on Tuesday. The Terriers are coming off a heartbreaking buzzer-beating loss at Iona Prep on Friday night.
While it may be hard to imagine, Stepinac is now winless in three league tries. Already plagued by early-season injuries, the Crusaders faced another obstacle on Sunday, playing without Head Coach Pat Massaroni, who was reportedly absent after picking up two technical fouls in Friday night's loss to Monsignor Scanlan.
When @step_basketball takes on @MbbBishop this afternoon they will be without head coach Pat Massaroni who will not be on the bench today and Friday against @ctkroyals after getting two technicals on Friday against Scanlan. Associate HC Rodney Swain will lead the team. @CHSAA_NYC— Mike Libert (@TheMikeLibert) December 9, 2018
While Davis returned to Stepinac's lineup after missing the season-opener at Cardinal Hayes due to injury, the Crusaders are still playing without national prospect Adrian Griffin Jr., still sidelined with an injury. Stepinac will host Christ the King on Friday night, with Massaroni expected to be absent from the bench again.
The Royals fell to defending PSAL champs South Shore 74-55 in Danny Green's Battle in the Apple on Sunday night, played just blocks away at the Barclays Center.