WRITTEN BY: ANTHONY SIMURO
What’s more exciting than a sell-out at The Palestra for a championship matchup between Roman Catholic and Neumann Goretti?
It seemed like deja vu for the 8,000 plus fans that were in attendance of the highly anticipated rubber-match. These two teams faced each other in last year’s Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) title match and Roman came out victorious. This year Roman looked to claim their second consecutive PCL title.
With only a few minutes left in regulation the lead was going back-and-forth. Roman’s Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick helped the Cahillites extend the lead to five with less than a minute left. Despite some streaky foul shooting in the last minute of play, Roman was able to hold on to defeat Neumann, 72-65, and claim the crown yet again for back-to-back titles.
Both teams entered the night’s game with a chance for vengeance. Last year Roman knocked off Neumann in the title game and this season Neumann handed Roman one of their worst losses. From the opening tip, it was evident that each team was playing with a chip on their shoulder.
Roman came out strong in the first half dominating on the inside and playing tight man-to-man defense. Tony Carr led the way for the Cahillites in the first half with 10 points followed by teammate Lamar Stevens who had nine of his own. Star players for Neumann, Quade Green and Zane Martin, were struggling from the field, leaving it up to Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree to lead the way with 10 points heading into the half. Despite Roman’s early 11-0 run, Neumann was able to close the gap and only start the second half down five, 32-27.
The second half had a similar tempo to the first. The game was tight, but Roman controlled the pace, continuing to attack the rim and dominate on the glass. Quade Green and Zane Martin were able to step up for Neumann, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Roman. As the buzzer sounded, you could see the joy on the faces of Roman, whom once again claimed the title of PCL champions with the win over Neumann, 72-65.
Neumann had won six straight PCL titles from 2009-2014, before Roman had seized the crown from them last year. This year Roman takes home the hardware for its second consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League Title, the first time they have done that since the 1999-2000 seasons.
Roman’s next game is against Martin Luther King High School on Feb. 26, at 8:45 p.m. at St. Joseph’s University for the District XII Championship.