ALBANY – Apparently the first rule of winning a New York State Federation title is to not talk about winning a New York State Federation title.
“We never talk about this,” Collegiate coach Ray Voelkel said. “We play to improve all season long and if this happens, it happens. That’s too much pressure to put on any kid.”
Collegiate captured a fifth consecutive Class B title Saturday, beating Bishop Ludden, 62-52, at the Times Union Center. The Dutchmen are tied with Mount Vernon and Nichols School for third in all-time Federation titles. Long Island Lutheran leads the list with seven titles, while the now defunct Rice has six.
After four years of being underdogs, Collegiate has now arrived.
“I think we made a name for ourselves,” senior Connor Huff said. “I think people are going to look back and see that pamphlet at the Federations five years state champions. That’s quite a feat. I’m not sure anyone else can do it.”
Huff, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds Saturday, will graduate with four Federation titles. Fellow senior Ryan Frankel, who had a game-high 19 points and six assists to earn MVP honors, won three in a row after transferring from Horace Mann following his freshman year.
“There’s no better feeling in the world,” Frankel said. “There’s very few days in your life you’ll remember forever and I know this is going to be one of them.”
Willie Gwathmey added 10 points for Collegiate, which forced Bishop Ludden to shoot just 18.2 percent from 3-point range one day after the Gaelic Knights torched Nazareth to the tune of 8-of-11 from beyond the arc.
A big reason for Collegiate’s success, Huff said, is the experience factor. The Dutchmen have been to the Times Union Center before and, most importantly, have won here before.
“I think being on this big stage, we’re not fazed,” he said. “We just come out and play our game. Other teams get nervous and we don’t, we thrive on that and take advantage of that.”
Voelkel said he also doesn’t like to compare players from different teams, but knows Huff and Frankel will have a legacy of winning at Collegiate that will likely be unmatched.
“We had two outstanding players on this team that we based the foundation on,” Voelkel said. “Connor and Ryan just had terrific careers at Collegiate and ended on a high note.”
On Saturday, Collegiate (27-3) led 28-17 at halftime and outscored Bishop Ludden 21-9 in the third quarter to open up a 23-point lead going into the fourth. Led by Ben Hackett, who had 17 points, Daniel Kaigler (13 points) and Matt Rogers, who added 12, the Gaelic Knights rallied in the fourth, but in the end Collegiate ended another season with a state Federation crown.
“This means everything to me, to our program,” Huff said. “I’m going to miss playing with Ryan and all those guys so much…It was the best experience of my life.”
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