One game doesn’t make a season.
Bishop Carroll coach Cosie Aliquo emphasized that to reporters on Tuesday night after his Huskies basketball team fell 70-28 to Lincoln Park Charter Performing Arts School in their PIAA Class A semifinal at Hempfield High School.
“This is a great group. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world,” Aliquo said. “You don’t base this season on tonight. We were in the semifinals in the state, one of the top four teams in the state. These guys are as special as they come.”
Bishop Carroll has been a close-knit group of players and the three senior starters Mitchell Madonna, David Maruca and Marcus Lee, have been captains of the team for the past three seasons.
“To end our season like this is kind of disappointing,” Maruca said. “But it doesn’t overshadow what we did this season. We had a great season. We stuck together. I’m just glad I got to play with these guys.
“I’ve been playing with Marcus and Mitch since my freshman year and Brandon (Martinazzi) and Scotty (Lucas) for the last three years. We know each other well. We’ve been together for summers, too. Four complete years of basketball together, I think that’s why we have so much chemistry.”
Madonna said that Aliquo reminded the team about the successes that they’ve had this season.
“Coach was talking in the locker room that we were 28-1,” Madonna said. “We were County Seat Tournament champions, Laurel Highlands champions and District 6 champions. It’s just amazing all the obstacles that we’ve overcome both on and off the court.
“I had the time of my life playing with David and Marcus, but I was really close to everyone on the team, especially the starting five. It’s been the best four years of my life.”
Lee said he thinks that he and his teammates will appreciate the season once they have a chance to reflect on it.
“It’s a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouths right now, but with everything else that we’ve done this year, we have to look at it as a success,” Lee said. “This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else. They are all my friends.”
The Huskies leading scorer throughout the season has been junior Brandon Martinazzi, who was limited to just 10 points against the Leopards (30-1).
“We didn’t play well and didn’t play close to our potential,” Martinazzi said. “That’s a good team that we lost to, and I don’t think that we have anything to be ashamed of.”
The Huskies got basically one shot each time down the floor.
“Their height, they really locked down the paint they forced us outside,” Maruca said. “We weren’t hitting and that hurt us.”
Bishop Carroll struggled to score against the much-taller Leopards, but never backed down despite falling behind 15-2 after the first and 39-13 at the half.
“I wanted to come in here thinking we could win and you don’t study for a test so you can fail,” Madonna said. “I believe in my team and I trust them, it’s just that tonight wasn’t our night.”
Leopards coach Mike Bariski admitted that his team had worked on its defense after playing the Huskies last year and winning by just two points.
“The quarterfinal game last year we were up by 20 and I know they came back on us and we went and played Johnsonburg and let one get away there,” the Lincoln Park coach said. “We worked on our defense all year long. We understand we can score the ball offensively, but you win championships by playing defense.”
It will be a battle of the charter schools on Friday at 2 p.m. in the championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey as Lincoln Park plays Math, Civics & Sciences, a 76-53 winner over St. John Neumann Tuesday.
“We’ve been to Hershey the last two out of three years so we haven’t won one yet,” Bariski said. “Hopefully, the third time is the charm.”
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/CoryIsenbergTD.