WRITTEN BY: ANTHONY SIMURO
It was business per usual for Roman Catholic Friday night, as they took on Saint Joseph’s Prep in the PCL Quarterfinals at the Philadelphia University Gallagher Athletic and Recreation Center.
The Cahilites came into Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup having won their last nine games within conference and looked to extend that streak to 10 in the “win or go home” game against St. Joseph’s Prep.
In pursuit of back-to-back PCL championships, Roman knew the road was not going to be easy. The St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks, coached by Philadelphia Legend William “Speedy” Morris, came into this game hungry for a win and believed they could be the team to upset The Cahilites.
From the opening tip, the atmosphere in the gym was electric. Both teams however looked nervous, committing a couple turnovers on both ends of the court. A few minutes into the first quarter, Roman settled down and turned up the defensive intensity which led to some steals and fast break points.
“For us we are good in transition, so we have to try and challenge passes and get some deflections,” said Coach McNesby. “We scouted things fairly well and we had a feel for who they wanted to get the ball to, so it helped us try to execute defensively, jump passing lanes, and get some deflections.”
Tony Carr ended the first quarter with a big three-pointer for Roman, putting The Cahilites ahead of the Hawks, 15-6.
Sophomore guards, Darius Kinnel and Kyle Thompson, came out strong for he Hawks in the second quarter, knocking down some big shots to give their team momentum. Unfortunately, it was short lived. Roman’s seniors, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick, thwarted the Hawks’ attacks, combining for 10 points in the quarter. Roman held onto their nine point lead going into the half ahead of the Hawks, 26-17.
Despite another hot shooting quarter from Kinnel and Thompson, Roman Catholic extended their lead in the third quarter, thanks to monstrous minutes from senior center, Paul Newman. Foul trouble sidelined Newman in the first half, but he made his presence known in the second half, with eight points in the third quarter.
“I had to stay in the game because my team really needed me, I had to be a senior leader and step up in the second half,” said Newman. “Right now we are going to stick to our defense. Our defense is winning us games so that’s our mindset as we move forward.”
Tony Carr also had a big third quarter with six of his own points and a couple steals, propelling the Cahilites to a 45-31 lead over the Hawks heading into the fourth quarter.
“I try to approach every game with the same mentality, just to come out attacking. I know that will open things up for me and also my teammates,” Carr said. “Defense wins games, we try to come out strong and take them out of their sets.”
Coming into the fourth with a commanding lead, the Cahilites’ Lamar Stevens made sure to end the game with an exclamation mark, throwing down a ferocious dunk that sent the fans into a frenzy. Roman held St. Joe’s Prep to 39 points the entire game and finished with 56 of their own for a final score of 56-39. The seniors of Roman Catholic combined for 49 of their 56 points and controlled the game the entire way.
Roman Catholic will face Archbishop Carroll in the PCL semifinals, Wednesday 2/17, at 8:45 p.m. at The Palestra.