Wednesday, Feb. 16, caps the last time five Cabrini men’s basketball seniors stepped foot on Nerney Fieldhouse’s hardwood. Billy Warren, Brice Parks, Ryan Byers, Brendon Fisher and Pat Costa all took on unique leadership roles for the Cavaliers.
With an underclassmen-led roster, the Cavaliers sat last in the Atlantic East Conference standings with a 7-14 overall record (8-14 in league play). This didn’t bother the Cavaliers, as they were on a quest to capture head coach, Tim McDonald’s, 100th career win.
“We were ready from the moment we woke up that morning, it being senior day and having the opportunity to get Coach McDonald’s 100th win,” Byars said.
Cabrini outpaced Centenary University 96-90. The energy spewed minutes after tipoff, as Cabrini came out running offensively. Byars, who finished with a career-high 35 points on 11-16 shooting while adding 15 rebounds, initiated the tempo early as the Cavaliers stormed out to an early lead.
The first half consisted of 10 lead changes and six ties. Cabrini went on a 12-4 run late while the Cyclones countered with an 8-0 run of their own to end the half.
The second half proved to be a bit closer than the first. The two teams were squared at 69 apiece with 4:14 remaining. Sophomore Aquil Stewart, was the catalyst to what sparked a 12-5 Cabrini run down the stretch.
A steal by sophomore Milton Robinson, led to a Centenary foul and a subsequent technical foul. Stewart took advantage, knocking down both free throws. Robinson then connected with Byars on a lay-up to extend the Cavalier’s led to 83-74 with 1:42 to play.
The Cyclones made a push at the end, hitting six of their last nine field goals. But the Cavaliers countered, making each of their final seven field goals, and went 13-19 from the free-throw line to keep the game out of reach.
Stewart and Byars combined for 63 of Cabrini’s 96 points, while 19 of Stewart’s points were recorded in the second half.
Chris Labelle led the Cyclones in scoring, finishing with 24 while Billy Veras and Harrison Lucibello recorded 20-plus points respectively.
Parks, Byars and Warren emphasize the impact the 2022 senior class had on the underclassmen and the program.
“I just tried to be there for the younger guys and help them grow mentally on the court. Helping them understand how things are is the best way for them to grow since at this level everyone can play,” Parks said.
“Mentoring the underclassmen was simple because they genuinely want to get better and soak in as much as possible,” Warren said.
“Our biggest thing in mentoring the underclassmen is to just make sure they enjoy every moment of it because it goes by so fast. Within enjoying, keep growing and never stop learning and listening,” Byars said.
Parks touched on the mental aspects of playing basketball at the collegiate level.
“It’s the mental part that some players don’t grasp, and they have this year. I just try to show the guys that I give it my all and as long as you are going as hard as you can the problems that you face will be solvable,” Parks said.
Byars and Warren touched on the relationship within the 2022 senior class and how their bond has evolved over their four-year tenure.
“I love these four guys. Through our four years, we had a lot of ups and downs on the court, but have continued to grow off the court. They went from being my friends to becoming my legitimate brothers,” Warren said.
“The relationship and bond this senior class has built over the years is unmatched, lifelong brothers. We have grown so much from young high school kids to grown men who all have great wisdom and knowledge now,” Byars said.
The blue and white strive to build off of their 2021-22 campaign, as they return 10 of their 15 athletes.