A la bio, a la bao, a la bim bom ba,
Humberto, Humberto, rah rah rah
That Spanish chant — well, a version of it — is commonly belted out during Mexican soccer games in celebration.
The SUNY New Paltz gymnasium on Tuesday night was treated to, umm, sabor de México. That cheer rang out from the Millbrook High School side of the stands, with Humberto Cabrera’s name placed where a crowd would normally chant for his family’s native land.
And, with reason.
Cabrera scored 12 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Millbrook boys basketball team over North Salem High School, 59-54, in a Class C regional semifinal.
“It basically means ‘Hooray,’ and it’s something you yell to support a player,” said Cabrera’s cousin, Kimberly Baeza-Jimenez, who was joined by several family members. “We’re extremely proud of him and the team, so we gave them a little traditional cheer.”
In whatever language, Millbrook is giddy.
The Blazers, enjoying a resurgent season, advanced the regional final, where they will face Section 11 champion Stony Brook 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Suffolk Community College’s Selden campus on Long Island.
“It’s amazing and we want to keep this going,” said Cabrera, a junior. “We’re having a lot of fun with this and that’s motivation to push harder. We made some huge plays at the end.”
Himself included. The guard drained a 3-pointer to give Millbrook the lead, 47-46, with 3:53 remaining. Shane Sinon hit two 3-pointers to help stave off North Salem, and Colby Whalen sealed the win at the free-throw line.
“Coming into this, coach (Bill Kyle) said it would probably be a five-point game and he was right,” said Drew Jackson, who snagged a key offensive rebound off a missed free throw with three seconds left on the clock. “It was going to come down to which team made the crucial plays at the end. That was us.”
It has been them for most of this season. Millbrook crushed Tri-Valley by 35 points last week to win its first Section 9 championship since 2009. Cabrera erupted for 31 points in that contest.
But this game, Kyle said, “was a good test of our will. And we came through it… We refuse to lose.”
Sinon, a transfer from Franklin D. Roosevelt, has been instrumental in the turnaround. In him, the Blazers have a reliable secondary scorer and his perimeter shooting helps space the floor. The junior scored 12 points, including three three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Patrick Kyle added nine points and Whalen scored six.
The game was close throughout — it was tied at 26 at halftime — but Millbrook outscored the Tigers, 23-15, in the fourth. Cabrera’s driving layup, going the length of the court and weaving through the defense, gave the Blazers a 52-48 lead with 49 seconds left. That elicited more cheers from the crowd, and an emphatic fist pump from the coach.
“We go as ‘Berto goes,” Bill Kyle said. “He’s incredible. You could see that fire in his eyes. He wasn’t gonna come off this floor as a loser.”
Miles D’Alessandro scored 17 points for North Salem (17-7). John Martabano added 13 points and Chris Alterio, one of the focal points of the Blazers’ defense, was held to eight points.
Jackson, reserved afterward, said the team would celebrate its victory by simply, “getting back and preparing for our next opponent.”
Cabrera’s family seemed a little more festive, though. As did the rest of the Millbrook fans, who shouted several cheers during the rollicking fourth quarter.
“’Berto brings the best fans!” Bill Kyle said with a chuckle. “I have no idea what they’re saying, but it’s all good.”
¡Todo está bién!
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
What: Class B and C boys basketball state regional finals
Where: Suffolk Community College’s Selden campus
Class B: Spackenkill vs. Section 11’s Center Moriches
Class C: Millbrook vs. Section 11’s Stony Brook
When: 2:30 p.m.