Men's Basketball

SU signee Joseph wins championship with Cushing Academy

Photo Courtesy of Philip Wexler | Cushing Academy

Kaleb Joseph (1) and his Cushing Academy team won their second consecutive championship. Next year, Joseph will come to SU and he hopes to see playing time right away.

In less than two months, Kaleb Joseph’s Cushing (Mass.) Academy team went from losing to St. Andrew’s by 30 points to winning the league championship.

Against St. Andrew’s, Joseph — who is committed to play for Syracuse next season — played well, but his team got humiliated.

“After that loss I was really hard on myself,” Joseph said, “and I was really disappointed I couldn’t lead my team.”

On March 1, though, Cushing beat St. Andrew’s 67-64 in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class AA Championship semifinal. The next day, Joseph captured his second consecutive championship, finishing with 25, nine rebounds and nine assists as Cushing beat Kimball Union Academy 78-70.

The No. 49 player in the Class of 2014 ended his high school career on top, and is now preparing to play right away for Syracuse.

When the championship game was over, Joseph celebrated with his teammates, relishing what seemed to many like a long shot earlier in the season.

“Honestly I was just all over the place,” Joseph said. “The only thing I could think about was that we finally did it.”

Last season the Penguins beat St. Andrew’s in the championship game at the buzzer. People said that win was a fluke, but Joseph knew they were wrong.

So he did everything he could to win it again this year.

Cushing got off to a slow start to the season, the 87–57 loss to St. Andrew’s serving as the low point. But Joseph knew his team could bounce back. He knew a championship was obtainable.

“It was kind of like — you don’t want to say this —” Joseph’s trainer PJ Frappier said, “but kind of like the Miami Heat thing where they were just waiting for the time to come.”

When the time came, Joseph and Co. were ready to beat St. Andrew’s like they did last year. The Penguins trailed by 12 with seven minutes to go, but Joseph’s confidence never wavered.

While his teammates bickered, Joseph urged them to focus on the game.

“I was sitting right behind the bench,” Frappier said, “and Kaleb was like ‘Listen, listen, it’s 12. Just relax, relax. One play at a time.’”

Joseph helped push Cushing past St. Andrew’s in the final minutes. Then in the championship game, Cushing beat Kimball 78-70, and Joseph accomplished his goal from the start of the season.

“I just love to win,” Joseph said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”

Joseph said the ability to lead a team to victory is especially important for a point guard. If Tyler Ennis was doing what he was doing and Syracuse wasn’t winning, Joseph said, Ennis wouldn’t be garnering nearly as much national recognition.

Ennis’ ability to thrive in the clutch and competitive nature have helped catapult him into the discussion to be a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft if he opts to leave Syracuse.

Joseph’s main focus now is preparing himself as much as possible leading up to the start of his SU career.

Now that the championship is in the books, he’s looking toward the future.

“I know if Tyler leaves a lot’s going to be expected of me,” Joseph said. “I want to make sure that I’m ready in absolutely every aspect of the game.”

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