WRITTEN BY: ANTHONY SIMURO
Having controlled the tempo throughout the first three quarters, Neumann was not expecting the type of comeback Imhotep put together in the fourth.
Neumann had built up considerable momentum throughout the game. From the opening tip, they were attacking the basket and getting to the charity stripe where they were able to convert.
Neumann’s center, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, made himself present in the paint with several rejections, but to give credit where credit is due, Imhotep’s guard, Daron Russell continued to attack the basket, as well.
After one half of play, Neumann was ahead 46-37, and the game seemed to be going in their favor. Neumann’s guards Vaughn Covington, Quade Green and Rasheed Browne combined for 33 of their 46 first half points and were perfect from the charity stripe, hitting all 10 of their free-throws.
Despite playing catch-up, Imhotep managed to keep the game within reach. Superb guard play from Daron Russell and some key offensive rebounds from the freshman Donte Scott kept Imhotep at striking distance.
Coming out of the half, Neumann continued to put the pressure on Imhotep, but just when you thought Neumann was going to pull away for good, Imhotep caught fire. With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Imhotep started to claw their way back into the game.
Daron Russell made it rain from behind the arc, hitting three, 3-pointers which sent the gym into a frenzy. With the third quarter buzzer sounding, you could see the momentum starting to shift into Imhotep’s favor.
At the start of the fourth, you could feel the energy in the air. Imhotep continued their offensive eruption and erased a 15-point deficit to tie it up with around three minutes remaining in the game. Imhotep accompanied great offense, with even better defense and for a second it looked like Imhotep could pull off a comeback.
Just when many people began to believe the miracle was possible, Imhotep’s offensive spark vanished seemingly at the same time it had begun in the third quarter. With around three minutes left to play, Neumann regained their composure and locked down Imhotep forcing them into a series of bad possessions. Quade Green for Neumann controlled the remainder of the game and was – in the words of the late great Stuart Scott – “as cool as the other side of the pillow” when Imhotep sent him to the foul line.
Despite their valiant effort, Imhotep was unable to find the additional spark they needed. As the final buzzer sounded, you could see the jovial expressions on the faces of the Neumann Goretti players, coaches, and fans. With a final score of 76-69, Neumann heads to the PIAA Class AAA Finals to face Mars High School. These two teams will face off Friday, March 18 at 8 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA.