The Catholic League boys’ basketball semifinals took place Wednesday night, Feb. 20, at the Palestra. It’s difficult to imagine a better venue to play – and watch – a basketball game.
The four finalists did their part to create excitement, and in the end, top-seed and four-time defending league champion Neumann-Goretti dominated Archbishop Carroll, 57-34, while third-seeded St. Joseph’s Preparatory School outlasted second-seeded Roman Catholic, 57-50.
N-G was led by John Davis’ 11 points and 12 rebounds while star guard Ja’Quan Newton scored a game high 18 points and grabbed seven boards. Unselfish Hanif Sutton played smothering defense and dished eight assists to help the Saints erase a seven-point deficit with a torrid 17-3 second quarter.
“We stepped up our defense,” said N-G coach Carl Arrigale. “They were getting some easy looks and we needed to pick up the tempo. We were able to disrupt what they wanted to do and that helped us a lot.”
On Monday night, Feb. 25 at the Palestra, the Saints will take on the Prep in a rematch from last year’s title that ended in controversy when the game-winning points were scored from the foul line in the final second of overtime.
Against Roman, the Hawks seized a 30-16 halftime lead before the Cahillites climbed to within three points with 1:16 remaining, but a huge steal by guard P.J. Kelly saved the day.
Miles Overton led the Prep with 17 points while Steve Vasturia scored 16, including eight of eight from the foul line. Swingman Kyle Thompson was the player of the game as he drained four three-point shots and finished with 14 points. Sophomore Chris Clover added seven points and outstanding defense.