Cheney Tech Comes Up Just Short In Quest for State Basketball Title

UNCASVILLE, CT — Officially, the school is called the Academy of Science & Innovation, and its teams play in the Capitol Region Athletic League. Its boys basketball team is better known as the Innovation Ravens of the CRAL, and by lunchtime Sunday, it was being called “state champion.”

Despite falling into a 10-0 hole in the opening four minutes of Sunday’s Division IV title contest with Cheney Tech, the Ravens chipped away, cutting the deficit to 7 by halftime. They took a 32-30 lead in the final minute of the third quarter and never looked back, emerging from the Mohegan Sun Arena with a 55-48 victory.

Amari Cruz, who played just four minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble, took over after intermission for the Ravens, scoring 15 of his team-high 17 points. Teammate Ibrahim Sidik added 15 points and contributed 13 rebounds, while Jamal Kulaib and Mohammad Kulaib chipped in 10 and nine points, respectively.

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Cheney Tech, seeking its first state title under that name (its predecessor, Manchester Trade School, won a championship in 1941), received a dominant farewell performance from its lone senior, Damnic Gittens. He scored 27 points and snagged a dozen rebounds, while teammate Mohamed Camara added eight points.

Playing a tough regular season schedule outside the Connecticut Technical Conference, the Chargers were vying to become the first tech school to win a state basketball title since Abbott Tech in 1967. Prior to the finals, their only three losses were to Division I top 10 teams Kolbe Cathedral and St. Bernard, plus a single-digit defeat to Manchester, the No. 1 seed in Division II.

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