By Matt Murphy ‘21
Two months ago, an article was released by Michael O’Brien, a Chicago Tribune journalist, saying that there would be no high school basketball season this year amidst the worldwide pandemic. Social media instantly blew up with frustration and a bit of sorrow, most of which were athletes posting their farewell to their high school basketball career, and thanking their school for the opportunity. Nobody had ever thought that there would be a season.
Until one day, a different statement was released by the IHSA which stated that high school basketball was eligible to begin immediately. Tears of joy were shed by many athletes, most of which were seniors who were given “one last go around.” Many programs happened to be affected by transfers and players who had opted out of the season. Many teams came prepared for the short season, but some seemed to fall short. There was one team in particular who didn’t back down – the Brother Rice Crusaders.
When the word got out, the Brother Rice seniors were itching to get in the gym and practice. No one had expected them to get to where they ended up this year. After graduating eight seniors, several juniors had to step up to the big stage. They knew they wanted to make the most out of what they were given.
Cullen Cosme, Luke Moustakas, Brandon Bryant, Frank Cunnea, Quinn Clifford, Tyler Showers, Garrett Greene, and Eddie Burke were all given one more chance. Coach Frasor instantly got them back in the gym and got the team up and running. Needless to say, they brought the energy to the gym, as well as every single day throughout the season.
The Crusaders came into this season coming off of a 21-11 previous season. Although this season was condensed as opposed to last year’s, the Crusaders came out much more improved and were willing to accept any challenge coming their way.
The team started the season out hot after winning eleven straight, defeating Providence St. Mel, Montini, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius, De La Salle, Providence, Marmion, Marist, Fenwick, Loyola, and Leo. None of which were easy games.
Sophomore Ahmad Henderson hit a game winning three-pointer to defeat Fenwick. Both the Leo and Loyola games came down to the wire, with the Crusaders coming out on top.
The Crusaders came across their first loss when they traveled to DePaul Prep. After being a close game through three quarters, DePaul found a way to run away with it late in the fourth quarter.
On senior night against St. Rita, the Crusaders recognized all eight of this year’s seniors, thanking them for all their hard work and dedication to the basketball program. Even better, they were able to come out with a hard fought victory on their last game on Brother Rice’s floor. The season all came down to March 13, when the Crusaders headed to Burbank to take on St. Laurence, with a chance to clinch and win the Catholic League. Needless to say, the Crusaders got the job done and were recognized as the 2021 Chicago Catholic Champions.
Every senior had his own individual contribution to this successful season. All eight of them found playing time in mostly every game. Even though it probably wasn’t the way they wanted to win it, lifelong memories were made along the way and they are now able to call themselves champions. What a remarkable season and a great job of the Crusaders to accomplish everything that they did in the short amount of time that they were given.