Cahillite Corner
Basketball 2011-12

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  Dan Hoban is a former All-Catholic golfer at Roman Catholic ('92), and also played at La Salle University  ('96). He is now the PGA Director of Golf at Middletown Country Club in Langhorne and Roman's golf coach.  He has been announcing Roman Catholic football and basketball for over 20 years, along with Philadelphia University basketball.  His family goes back three generations at Roman.
   He may be reached at DanHoban@Middletowncc.com.

MARCH 10
PIAA CLASS AAAA FIRST ROUND
Roman 62, Parkland 48
  Roman Catholic entered the 1st round of the AAAA PIAA State Tournament looking to redeem themselves after last year's early exit to Bethlehem's Liberty High.  The Cahillites were matched in the bracket against the Parkland High School Trojans out of Orefield, PA. Parkland is long known as a football power in the Lehigh Valley and has produced some fine basketball teams also.  This matchup was slightly on the personal level for me because my wife Nonee is a '93 Parkland grad.  She was a manager for several of the Parkland sports teams and later the manager for Coach John Miller's La Salle University women's team.  Who would have thought that we would meet through basketball?!  She was a trooper by wearing neutral colors instead of red/white or purple/gold. Roman faced a Parkland team that entered the game with a 21-6 record and a 2nd seed in District 11.  A nice crowd gathered at Bethlehem Freedom High School to watch the visitors from Philly take on the locals.  I have to give credit to the Roman faithful who made the trip up the Northeast Extension and Route 22 to cheer on the Cahillites in a very pro-Parkland gym.  The game started off with Parkland jumping out to an 10-3 lead on the strong play of Parkland g Austin Beildelman and c Rob Dvoracek, who is attending Temple next year on a football scholarship.  The 6-4 strongman imposed his will inside as the Trojans' leading rebounder and a good finisher in the lane.  Dvoracek led the Trojans with 17 points and a dozen boards.  He and fellow inside bruiser f Daulton Charles kept the Cahillites off of the offensive glass for the entire first half.  Roman fans were sure nervous in the opening minutes, but g Britton Lee and f Shafeek Taylor hit threes from the corners to bring Roman back along a nice inside bucket by f Secean Johnson.  Roman and Parkland ended the quarter deadlocked at 14.  The only frustrating part for fans on both sides was the officiating.  I usually don't like to rip officials, but this crew from District 3 definitely was over their heads from the tip. In 20+ years of working games, I have never seen a Hoban record book 53 fouls whistled between the two teams (28 Roman, 25 Parkland) until today.  Talking to the announcer, he pointed out the assigner across the floor at press row.  He was writing away like a college student cramming to get a paper done in time minutes before the deadline.  The foul fest certainly took some of the flow away.  Twice in the game, Parkland was shooting the bonus while only having three team fouls. Things then evened out.  The 2nd quarter is where Roman shook off the 10-day layoff and opened things up, allowing their full court press and changing defenses to impose their will on the Trojans.  Roman outscored Parkland 17-11 in the 2nd quarter behind transition buckets by Lee, g Shep Garner, and f Shafeek Taylor, who continued his streak of solid games with 14 points, 7 boards, and 5-6 shooting with two threes.  The lead reached 10 shortly before the half, but four consecutive free throws by Parkland made the score 31-25 at the half in the Cahillites' favor. 
    The second half began with Taylor making a steal and then converting on the other end after a Parkland turnover, which began a string of three in a row for the Trojans. Roman opened up the lead in the first few minutes of the 3rd. A three-ball by Raquan Brown-Johnson from the top of the key put Roman up by 12 and forced a timeout by Parkland. Behind me, I could hear the partisan Trojan crowd getting restless.  However, Parkland would never surrender and go away, as the Trojans kept plugging away inside.  However, Roman stepped up their defense and rebounding behind 6 boards by Secean Johnson and "RBJ"'s 4 steals.  The suffocating Roman defense held Parkland to three field goals in the second half, with two coming after the deep subs entered.  The killer for Parkland was Trojan point guard and 2nd leading scorer Justin Zajko (8 points) fouling out with 3:16 on the 3rd on a mid-court reach for his fourth.  Walking away, he must have muttered something against FCC rules and was whistled for a tech. From my vantage point, I didn't hear what was said, but when I saw the official reach for whistle after calling the initial foul, I knew a "T" was next.  Parkland then had little choice but to resort to pressing and fouling, and Roman expanded the lead to 20 in the fourth quarter behind buckets by Shep Garner (18 points on 6-11 FGs, 6-7 from the line, 4 assists) and decent team free throw shooting (16-24).  Afterwards, the players admitted that they could have made more.  The 3rd quarter ended with Roman holding a 43-34 lead before Roman opened up the lead and outscored Parkland 21-14 in the 4th.  In a game that many thought would never end, Roman attempted 24 freebies while Parkland had 29 attempts!  Lee and Secean Johnson had 9 points each, and RBJ chipped in with 7. 
    Roman now faces a rematch with the Lower Merion Aces on Wednesday night at Norristown High at 7:30.  Roman defeated the Aces 68-65 in a double OT thriller in the season opener in the Philly.com Rally Classic held at Coatesville.  This sets up to be a possible "classic".   Oh, and in case you are wondering, I didn't bust the wife's chops too much on the ride home.  But I could have and then spent the night on the couch!!

FEB. 12
CATHOLIC LEAGUE
Roman 75, Wood 66
  The Cahillites played their final home game on the historic hardwood on the third-floor at Roman with all sorts of scenarios up for grabs.  Win against the gritty Vikings and they open the playoffs at Philadelphia University as a "home" game.  Lose, and the purple and gold would be heading up Street Road to battle the Vikings for a second time in six days. Of course, I would always prefer the Gallagher Center because it's my "other" home court, as I am winding down my 7th season announcing the Rams home games.  Philly U. Athletic Director Tom Shirley has always treated me as one of the family, and it was tough shoes to fill as the announcer prior to me was "only" John McAdams, my announcing mentor and the legendary voice of the Big 5 and the Palestra.  During the PCL playoffs, I am always sure to use his famous tag line while announcing at the Palestra- "Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the University of Pennsylvania's Palestra, college basketball's most historic gym." It's always been my tribute to the late Philadelphia legend. 

    Anyway, on to the game itself.  Wood was coming off of a loss to an emotionally charged Conwell-Egan team that was playing their final home game in school history while Roman was trying to keep the momentum from Friday night's "road" game at St. Matt's versus Judge.  Prior to the game, I was thinking that this was Wood's first visit to Roman's gym since 1989, my freshman year at Broad and Vine and Roman's first championship on a six-year sweep.  Wood showed right away that they were playing for keeps, as this matchup was like an Ali-Frazier battle, punch followed by counterpunch.  Roman fans have seen the Cahillites usually jump to a monster lead in the first quarter this season at home, as some teams have trouble adjusting their games to the smaller floor. Hey, sorry, the place is 122 years old!! The Vikings were lead by three-balls by guards Tom Rush and Pat Smith, who often set up deep after quick drive and dishes by guard Kyle Adkins (7 assists).  Smith showed why he is one of the top scorers in the Catholic League, as he dropped 30 points on 12-19 shooting and 2-3 from downtown.  "Big Suburbs" soph C/F Joe LoStracco battled constant foul trouble but contributed 8 points and 4 rebounds.  Rush's 4 field goals all were from 3-land on 4-13 shooting.  I like the way Wood plays, just like their coach Jack Walsh played back in his CL days-gritty, tough, and never backing down no matter the opponent.  I DID think that a brutally hard screen set on Roman soph G Shep Garner by a Viking was done with some raised elbows, but the height difference between the two players could have made it look worse.  Usually I don't say anything to the officials when I am at the table, but I did mention to ref Chris DeFelice during a timeout that the screen was stationary but elbows did come up.  Hey, I'm not singling out a player and I surely don't believe there was intent to injure-I just believe it was a missed call and there could have been a serious injury to Roman's best player. The screen was at mid-court and I had a perfect view.  Obviously, one of his Roman teammates should have called that screen out! The screen setter is far too strong and far too big to have someone run full steam into his pick without some kind of heads up. Okay, enough of my rant!   The game was a seesaw battle with Roman holding a slight 19-16 edge at the end of the 1st quarter.  While Smith was filling it up for the Vikings, Hob's Hero of the Game goes to Roman jr. F Shafeek Taylor, who had played only about 8 minutes on Friday night against Judge, fouling out with only 2 points.  Shafeek would not be denied on drives to the bucket, short jumpers in the lane, and two threes. Overall, Taylor has had just a so-so season after an early concussion in the first game of the year. I think he would admit that also, as he works as hard as anyone on his game.  Today, "Feek" was nothing short of spectacular, dropping 28 points on 12-16 shooting, 2-3 on "threes", and 2-3 from the stripe.  He also added 10 rebounds and 5 assists.  Roman ended the 2nd quarter with soph. G Shep Garner burying a three as the seconds wound down.  Roman entered the break on a 7-0 run to lead 43-35.  The Cahillites and Vikings again traded punches in the 3rd quarter as Roman was unable to pull away and did not lead by more than 12 at any time.  Roman was lead by Taylor, Garner (19 points on 5-9 shooting, 3-6 on threes, 4-6 from the line, 7 assists) jr. F Secean Johnson (14 points, 5 rebs, 3 blocks, 2 assists) soph. G Rashann London (8 points, 4 assists).  Every time Wood cut the lead to single digits, Garner hit a monster three.  The game was a physical contest with a ton of intensity, and both coaches were constantly on the officials with every call.  Two Irish coaches and an intense game equal lots of volume.  Roman finished the game out by making some free throws along with a two-handed dunk by Secean Johnson. Cahillites earned a home game matchup with Bernie Rogers' Ryan Raiders at Philadelphia University's Gallagher Center this Friday night at 7 PM. It must be mentioned that the Puckster was completely surprised by his being named the Father Joseph Murphy Award recipient.  You should have seen the look on his face! Also, a huge thank you to Cahillite basketball alum Mike Leinheiser '86 for organizing the annual Roman Basketball Alumni game.  38 Roman basketball alumni took part in this year's classic that ended in a 75-75 tie.  The fellas opted for NO OVERTIME! Markward Award winner Zane Major '75 was a unanimous choice for MVP, as he still has a sweet shooting stroke, so much so that his purple team ran a play for him to take the last shot.  Of course, in true competitive fashion, the gold team doubled him!! The highlight play was an alley-oop slam on an inbounds play to Rider alum Mike Ringgold from none other than current Roman coach Chris McNesby '95.  Chris didn't score, and we busted him pretty good, but he still had plenty of assists in true point guard fashion.  Thanks for playing everyone!!!
**Special thanks also goes from all of the alumni players to Dave Falcione and the Henry James Saloon for sponsoring the Alumni Game and the shirts for the players."**

FEB. 10
CATHOLIC LEAGUE
Roman 62  Father Judge 48
  Roman entered Friday night's game with the Crusaders of Father Judge coming off two tough road losses, first at St. Joe's Prep and then giving a game away from the free throw line at Carroll.  After the Carroll loss, coach Chris McNesby's Irish was quite up in a rather loud locker room lecture.  The question leading into this game was how would Roman respond against a Judge team that always battles and that had split games with Roman last year.  It was also a revenge game for the Columbia Blue and Red because Roman had knocked off Judge in the first round of the playoffs.  To add to the drama, McNesby and Crusader boss Sean Tait are very good friends going back to their playing days at Roman and Judge.  The "X" factor, if you will, was the venue.  In what might be a first in Catholic League history, (Ted might have to check on that) a Catholic League game was played in a grade school gym-St. Matt's in Mayfair.  St. Matt's has long been a Judge basketball feeder, so the Crusaders you could say still had a slight home court advantage.  I must say that the folks at St. Matt's could not have been more hospitable, and I personally have to send a special thank you for helping me get my father and his wheelchair into the gym via a side entrance.  Steps are a no-no with a 500-pound automated wheelchair.  It was a packed house of about 750-800 people (guess!) and a vocal Judge student section.  The game was also designated as a Coaches Versus Cancer benefit. While the court was certainly regulation length, it was tight along the sidelines and the baseline, which certainly comes as no big surprise for the Roman guys! As the game began, Roman jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead.  In typical Crusader fashion, Judge jumped right back behind the driving and jump shooting skills of jr. G Steve Griffin.  Griffin often lowers the shoulder and drives hard to the rim or pulls up for three-point or mid-range jumpers.  Roman appeared a little tentative or playing not to make a mistake in the first quarter-maybe trying to shake off the cobwebs of the Carroll defeat.  The first quarter ended in a 10-10 tie, with both teams looking to find their tempo.  The 2nd quarter was much of the same, as Roman would try to establish itself via their full-court press and transition opportunities.  Judge would counter Roman's press by pushing the ball and driving the middle of the lane and dishing off to impressive jr. F Joe Robinson, who owned the 2nd quarter with 13 of his 16 points in the stanza.  Robinson even threw down an impressive dunk off a crisp pass from Griffin.  Roman's effort was truly a team effort, with major contributions from soph. G Shep Garner (16 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assists, 2 steals) soph. G Rashann London (14 points, 3 assists), and jr. G Britton Lee (10 pts. 6 asists, 4 rebs. 4 steals).  Steady efforts were also given by the Johnsons- jr. Secean (9 points, 4 boards) and Raquan (7 points, 7 rebs. 2 assists).  Roman went into halftime down 2 with the score 27-25 in Judge's favor.  A few adjustments were made in the press at halftime, and Coach McNesby reminded the team that the third quarter would be the difference.  The Cahillite crew responded, creating many of Judge's 18 turnovers and turning them into runout buckets that silenced the Judge crowd.  Great team defense limited the scoring of Griffin and G/F Brian Hennessey in the second half, as Hennessey struggled with a 3-12 shooting night with only one "three" on six attempts.  While Garner didn't have one of his better shooting nights (5-15), it seemed like each of his three three-balls came at a big time.  Raquan Brown-Johnson hit a straight-on three to put Roman up in double digits for good 43-31 late in the 3rd quarter.  Roman ended the 3rd quarter outscoring the Crusaders, 22-6, to end much of the doubt that might have been.  The 4th quarter pretty much picked up where Roman left off, as the Cahillites were very patient on offense, as Roman ran very deliberate sets that chewed clock and also built the lead up to 20.  Quick burst to the rim ended in baskets for London and an inbounds play underneath ended in a quick field goal by freshman F TreVaughn Wilkerson, who also added 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in limited minutes.  Wilkerson strikes me as a future breakout player who is so young and talented that he has no idea how good he can/will be.  Young big men often take a little while to develop as opposed to guards, and the jump from grade school ball to Catholic League hoops is quite a jump.  As the waning moments of the game wound down, the subs took the floor and Roman's only senior, F Jamil Taylor, drove hard from the right elbow and deposited a layup to the delight of the Roman bench and fans.  Judge's JohnMike O'Connor and Matt Walker buried 3's in the closing minute to make the score 62-48.  All in all, the night was a Roman victory but the night was a celebration of hoops in the basketball-crazy Northeast Philly area and hopefully a bigger victory over cancer.

JAN. 15
CATHOLIC LEAGUE

Roman Catholic 69, LaSalle 56
  I am going to start this report with a bit of a rant, so please bear with me and forgive me if I get anyone upset.  Working the Roman basketball games for over 20-plus years, I always like to get a look at the visiting teams and listen for feedback when they walk into our third-floor gym.  I see a lot of open mouths and some head swiveling, especially when they look at the baselines, sidelines, and the three-point lines that meet the sidelines.  Some kids will gripe, but I politely explain to them that our building was built in 1890, and that Dr. Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1892!  It is the adults that whine the most, and it gets extreme at times.  I am 100% biased, of course, but please LET IT GO!  Remember North's gym and West's gym, where shooting a three required you to watch the ceiling! Both of those floors were not regulation, and St. Tommy More's gym had a pillar in play at midcourt.  Sure, we would like a new gym, and plans have been in the works for several years, but it would be a huge undertaking to raise the funds in this current economy.  Quite honestly, a short, narrow floor can hurt a Roman-type team that likes to play up-tempo.  Also, try running a basketball program with varsity, junior varsity, and freshman programs with TWO baskets!  Roman's gym is one of the most historic gyms in the city that has seen numerous Division One players as well as several pros grace the hardwood.  It is a great place to watch a game and feel like you are part of the action.
  Okay, I feel better now. On to the game itself.  Coach Chris McNesby's squad entered this matchup with the Explorers coming off of a red-hot then cold win over Conwell-Egan and a three-game losing streak versus La Salle.  Last year's tilt was an overtime thriller before a packed house at La Salle.  Today's game was no different, although a "packed house" definition is always different when talking about Roman's gym.  It was super to see Roman greats of the past in attendance, such as Scott Paxson '01 of the Cleveland Browns, Maalik Wayns '09-Villanova's newest member of the 1,000 point club, Ernest Pollard '86 (Temple), and Michael Watson '91 (Mount St. Mary's).  All four are current or future Roman Catholic Sports Hall of Fame members. The game started out with La Salle taking an early 2-0 lead off the tip on a transition basket by jr. F Stephen Smith.  The Cahillites were paced by soph. G Shep Garner and his hot three-point shooting with two early ones as Roman jumped out to a 13-7 lead.  La Salle kept pace, being led by Smith and fellow forwards Ryan Winslow and Matt Rodden.  All three showed nice touch, firing mid-range jumpers and an occasional three.  Roman maintained discipline in their shot selection, not firing after one pass or forcing anything.  Their defense was their signature on this one though, as their full-court press took La Salle out of their deliberate style.  I like the job that Coach Joe Dempsey does with his crew, utilizing each player to the best of their talents.  It's no surprise that La Salle has always been right in the mix in the AAAA pool.  Roman's suffocating defense allowed the Cahillites to lead at the half, 29-15.  Garner was easily the star of the first half, especially after burying a trey from about 26 feet on the Broad Street side towards the stage end.  Shep also drew two charges in the stanza, including one on La Salle star G Amar Stukes late in the 2nd quarter, drawing his second foul.  The question on the mind of every Roman fan in the gym at halftime was "How will the Cahillites come out to start the third?" It was no big secret to remember that Conwell-Egan stormed back from a 23-point hole to cut it to nine the other day in the third.  Even though a few possessions in a row led to no points, Roman would not allow the blue and gold to get within 10 points.  Three-point plays by jr. F Raquan Johnson, jr F Secean Johnson (2), and Garner in the second half answered every La Salle attempt to press full court.  Secean Johnson added to his highlight film with three monster two-handed slams that got the Roman faithful roaring.  Johnson reminds me of Michael Watson ('91) in his leaping ability to get to the rim and finish.  For the record, Roman did lose the quarter, 18-15, after a few lazy turnovers.  Star guard Amar Stukes led the La Salle attack with 20 points, but was held to 6-16 shooting.  He also added 7 assists.  I like his game a lot.  Matt Rodden also contributed 16 points (6-10 shooting) and 5 boards.  Stephen Smith also chipped in 9 rebounds for the Explorers.  All in all, I would have to say that this was Roman's best all-around effort, as several Cahillites had good outings and the lead almost reach 20 several times in the second half.  Garner gathered 22 points on only 11 shots with 8 connections (5-7 from three land) along with 5 assists.  Soph. G Rashaan London's adaptation to point guard is continuing, as he shot a perfect 6-6 and 2-2 from three for 15 points and 6 assists.  Secean Johnson had probably his best outing in a Roman uniform with 14 points. This kid was a practice player last season that has worked into a starter this year. Big-time kudos! Jr. F Shafeek Taylor only took three shots, but was pivotal shooting 7-8 for the line when La Salle had to start fouling.  He also led all players with 10 boards.  Overall, Roman shot 24-39 from the field, 8-14 from downtown, and 13-19 from the line.  Roman will have a busy week, with a road trip to Archbishop Ryan Wednesday night, a Friday afternoon home matchup with West Catholic, and next Sunday's showdown with Neumann-Goretti at Philadelphia University.

JAN. 9
CATHOLIC LEAGUE

Roman Catholic 66, Monsignor Bonner 39
    I am back to report on Roman's basketball season.  Most of the football games were covered by other more experienced reporters. I will admit that tonight's trip to Bonner was filled with mixed emotions.  Of course, I want Roman to win the game, but I was filled with sadness knowing that tonight might be the last time I visited Upper Darby for a Catholic League tilt with the Friars.  Over the years, being involved with announcing Roman football and basketball as well as coaching Roman's golf team, I have made some wonderful friends at Bonner as well as the entire Catholic League.  I was thinking about Bonner basketball assistant coach and head golf coach Jack Glacken and his son Jack Jr. (also a Bonner assistant and former All-Catholic).  I have known Mr. Glacken for almost 20 years, and I called him Friday night after the verdict had come about the four schools closing.  I felt like I was calling about a death in one's family - with extreme sorrow.
    Anyway, on to the game. Roman was coming off a rather poor showing, by Coach Chris McNesby's admission, in the Brandon Jennings Under Armour Invitational in Milwaukee.  The Cahillites fell to the host school, Marquette University Prep, in an OT affair that saw Roman go down via a buzzer-beating tip-in.  Talking to the "Puckman", he was absolutely sure the tip occurred after the buzzer. Hey, after all of these years, I take everything from Puck at face value.  I knew that Bonner would play this game and every game this season with tons of emotion.  The first quarter saw the early tied at 11 all with Bonner being paced by Pat Vanderslice hitting two early three balls and another by Paul Pfeffinger.  Roman countered with threes by soph. G Shep Garner, jr. G Britton Lee, soph. G Rashaan London, and a powerful two-handed slam by jr. F Secean Johnson.  The dunk was so strong that the game had to be stopped for a brief moment because the rim had to be pushed back to the proper position.  From there, Roman's fullcourt man to man press had its way with the Friars as the Cahillites pushed ahead to lead at the quarter, 22-11.  The 2nd quarter pretty much picked up where the 1st left off, with Roman extending it's lead to 40-20 at the half.  Jr. F Raquan Johnson and frosh F TreVaughn Wilkerson contributed off the bench during this stanza.  Wilkerson strikes me as a soon-to-be breakout player.  He is extremely polished for a freshman, and has good footwork and nice passing skills for a youngster.  As always, the Friars continued to play hard and battle.  Any time you walked into the Bonner gym. no matter what the records were, you knew that you were in for a battle.  Give much credit to Bonner head coach Tom Meakim and his staff for keeping his team focused and playing hard during some trying circumstances.  Bonner's headliners were F Pat Vanderslice (11 pts, 3 "threes" 7rebs.), G Paul Pfeffinger (10pts. 6 rebs.) and G Mike Proska (8 assists).  Their efforts led to Bonner winning the 3rd quarter 11-10 as Roman committed 4 of their 9 turnovers in that stanza after only having 2 in the 1st half.  Apparently, Coach McNesby's talk between the 3rd and 4th quarters worked, as the purple and gold scored the first 12 points of the final quarter.  The lead bulged to 30 at one point before the deep subs reported for duty.  Garner led the way for Roman (21 points, 8-10 from the field, 3-5 "threes", 2-2 from the line, 4 rebs, 5 assists), along with fellow soph. G Rashaan London (12 points, 6 assists) Jr. F Shafeek Taylor and Lee didn't have their best shooting nights, but both had 4 assists.  Overall, Roman shot 29-54 from the field, with 21 assists against 9 turnovers. The Cahillites will be at home this coming Friday afternoon against Conwell-Egan and Sunday afternoon against La Salle.  Now a warning! Philadelphia basketball has not seen anything like this! Coming soon to a computer near you-"The Hockey Puck Workout Video"-Live from Milwaukee! This will be compliments of head coach Chris McNesby, assistant coaches Pat McKee and JJ Kedra. BRACE YOURSELVES!! In closing, I want to wish all of the Bonner/Prendie family the very best wishes and prayers that we will meet again next season.  While we wear different colors during the games, we are all a family in Catholic education.