This one was easy.
From start to finish, the Neumann-Goretti boys’ basketball team dominated the PIAA Class 3A state championship Thursday night, March 23, in Hershey, Pa.
With 10 different players entering the scoring column, the Saints rolled past Lincoln Park, 89-58, to win their fourth consecutive state crown.
“Great,” said N-G senior Quade Green, the University of Kentucky-bound phenom who led his team with 22 points and eight assists. “It’s something we worked for. It’s something we aimed for.”
The Saints (24-7) had become accustomed to blowout wins during the tournament. The final was no different.
It could be argued that N-G played its best all-around game of the postseason. The Saints led 17-9 after one quarter, and then a 50-26 blitz over quarters two and three allowed coach Carl Arrigale to use his substitutes much more than normal.
The Saints’ celebration was part joy, part relief, part vindication. After N-G blew a big halftime lead and lost to Archbishop Wood in last month’s Catholic League championship — N-G’s third straight defeat in the CL final ‑- there was a growing concern that the Saints would be unable to muster enough energy and desire to play good basketball.
Arrigale understood the dilemma, which made him particularly proud while he watched his gang capture the essence of a rare opportunity — silencing critics.
“It was devastating after we lost (to Wood),” said Arrigale. “It took a lot for these guys to step up and move on. That they were able to do that … it says all there is to say about this team.”
Villanova University-bound senior Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree scored 15 points, collected 13 boards and blocked four shots. He wasn’t surprised about his team’s accomplishment.
“We believe in each other,” he said. “Everyone knew what was at stake. Everyone decided to push past the disappointment. We knew there were other challenges.”
In addition to Green and Cosby-Roundtree, teammates Christian Ings (13 points) and Mike Millsip (11) reached double digits. Noah Warren added nine points and Emil Moody seven.
“You look around at this team,” said Green, “and you’ll see that everyone is part of a winning tradition. We kept that alive tonight. It’s a special time for all of us.”
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.