2018-19 Season: 14-16 record , CHSAA City Championship runner-up
Key Players to Watch: RJ Davis, Adrian Griffin Jr. Malcolm Chimeze
One of the top teams in the tri-state area and in the nation is from White Plains, NY. The Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders will start the season ranked No.36 in the nation according to Ball is Life and this is all thanks to their success as a city and state federation championship success in 2018 and more importantly the duo of UNC commit PG RJ Davis and Top 10 junior in the nation and Duke Commit 6-7 wing Adrian Griffin Jr.
Last season Injuries to both players affected the team as they finished with 14-16 record, but on the bright side when RJ and Griffin were healthy towards the end of the season they were able to make a huge surprise run in the archdiocesan and city playoffs. eventually the Crusaders run came to a screeching in last years CHSAA “AA” city title game when they lost to Christ The King, but the late run proved that the Crusaders will be even a more dangerous team this season.
In many of the preseason games this fall, the duo of Davis and Griffin Jr. Have proven to be one of the best duos in the nation with their scoring ability and high basketball IQ. The two impressed everyone with their play when they took down Philly Catholic league powerhouse Archbishop Wood at the Northeast Fall Invite. In their second game the Crusaders without RJ almost took down NJ powerhouse Roselle Catholic. It was a sure sign that day that Stepinac could play with anyone in the country.
Senior point guard RJ Davis will come into the season more focused after making his commitment to North Carolina on October 21st . When he addressed media after his announcement he explained why he chose the Tar Heels despite the fact that they have Caleb Love another guard who commited a few weeks prior “ He’s a big guard who can play the 1 and two defends well, so I feel like me and his game can compliment each other well and I got a chance to know him over the summer at the CP3 camp, he’s a good player so I can see myself playing with him”. Says Davis.
6-8 junior forward Malcolm Chimeze will also be a big factor for the Crusaders this season. Chimeze who has picked up offers from a ton offers over the summer and preseason from schools such as StonyBrook, Bryant, Stetson and more. Chimeze adds toughness, rebounding and inside scoring for the Crusaders something that will benefit the team greatly if he can stay healthy. The Crusaders also have a supporting cast of players such as Samuel Gibbs, Luke Fizulich, Justin Morety and others who can contribute to this Stepinac team in a big way.
The Crusaders have loaded schedule where they will be playing in many national tournaments locally as well as outside the the State of NY. Here are some key games events to look out for on their schedule.
December 13th @ Cardinal Hayes
The last time these two teams met was the CHSAA intersectional semis when the Crusaders took down Hayes. The key matchup in this game in our eyes will be in the front court between Adrian Griffin Jr. and Hayes’s Shemani Fuller.
December 14th vs St. Raymond’s @ the PSA cardinals Prep Showcase.
It’s always a good battle when these two teams go up against each other on December 14th both teams will meet in the 4th annual PSA prep showcase. The key matchup in this game will be between RJ Davis and St. Ray’s Malachi Smith.
City of Palms tournament in Fort Myers, FL
December 18th vs Briarcrest Christian (TN)
The Crusaders will be put to the test as they will go up against Briarcrest Christian which features top junior Kennedy Chandler in the prestigious city of palms tournament.
December 29th vs Paul VI @ the Slam Dunk at the Beach
The Crusaders have a showdown with another nationally ranked team Paul VI out of the DMV area and the WCAC conference. This game will be a statement game for the Crusaders to end 2019.
January 3rd vs Iona Prep @ The Crusader Classic
If you know how crazy it gets at the Crusader classic between these two rivals then you know it would be a goody. Expect the Westchester County Center to be packed for this event to start off 2020
January 12th vs Rutgers Prep (NJ) @ The Empire Invitational
The Crusaders will make their return to the Empire Classic when they will go up against Junior forward Trey Patterson and Rutgers Prep.
January 18th vs East Catholic (CT) @ the Spalding Hoophall Classic
Other Key Games:
January 31st @ Christ The King
February 1st vs Iona Prep @ Iona College
January 11th vs Monsignor Scanlan
Many people are picking the Crusaders to win the CHSAA AA city title early and it will be a safe pick just by knowing who is on that team and their postseason success the past two seasons.
The success of this year’s Archbishop Stepinac team will come down to how healthy this team is and their depth. Injuries hurt the Crusaders badly last season and they can’t afford to have it happen once again. As we mentioned before players such as Justin Morety, Sam Gibbs, Luke Fizulich and Malcolm Chimeze would be key to this team. In the loss to Roselle Catholic in the Northeast fall invitational, the Crusaders proved that they can compete and fill the offensive gaps without RJ Davis, they also have been proven to be a great defensive team as they held a deep Roselle team to only 57 points. If the Crusaders can stay healthy throughout the season it will pay off big once the postseason starts.