Huck's Corner
Basketball, 2011-12

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  Ed "Huck" Palmer is a headliner among our trusty statmen/observers. He is not to be confused with Tom "Puck" McKenna. (Huck is normal. Puck is not even close). He will make reports on games he sees. You may contact him at TEDDYCAT10@aol.com.


FEB. 17
CATHOLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
Carroll 53, La Salle 49
 
On Wednesday night I took in O’Hara/C-E in a PCL 1st-round playoff that featured an extremely lackluster first three quarters before erupting into a down-to-the-wire-dandy. O’Hara won that game and ended a drama-filled final quarter with a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the win. Tonight, it was little bit of the same. No buzzer-beaters to end it, but a sensational fourth quarter nonetheless. Let’s back-track a little to set the stage. Using solid defensive concepts the Pats kept the Explorers at bay for the first the first 21 minutes of action. A three-pointer by freshman 6’6” F Derrick Jones helped expand a nine-point halftime lead to, 32-17, with three minutes left in the third quarter. The Pats were in control and the perimeter-oriented Explorers were a wintry 6-for-24 from the field at this point. As the game moved through the final stanza the Explorers were able to slice some of the deficit off of Carroll’s lead, but you still didn’t have a sense that they had a serious run in them. Then it happened! Trailing, 44-35, with 3:41 left, jr. PG Amar Stukes deposited a trey off a pass from sr. G Matt Murphy to cut the lead to six. Carroll’s jr. CG Isaiah Warren hit the first of two free throws to push the lead back to seven, but moments later La Salle’s sr. CG Darnell Artis canned another trey off a pass from Stukes to cut the lead to four. With La Salle forcing the issue defensively, Carroll missed a rushed shot at the other end, and as Stukes raced down court he found jr. 6’6” F Matt Rodden for yet another trey. LaSalle’s third triple in the last 43 seconds. Thus, shrinking Carroll’s lead to just, 45-44, with 2:58 to play. Up until this point the Explorers, who went wild from the arc in Wednesday’s 1st round win over Judge, had connected on just 3-of-15 attempts from way-beyond-land. Credit Carroll’s sticky defense for that. Still, better late than never, right? So, what happens when a team is making shots and is hot on your tails? Well, if you’re one of the team leaders and have been mostly quiet through the game, then it’s your turn to find an answer. And that’s exactly what Carroll’s sr. WG Alex Stavetski did. After dumping the ball inside to sr. F Lou Dominique, Stavetski quickly summoned for Dominique to toss it back out. Upon catching he had a smaller defender on him and for one of the few times in this game enough room to get a mostly clean look at a shot that he likes to take. Whap! Nothing but net, and the Pats now had a 48-44 lead with 2:03 left. Stukes would answer with a drive while being fouled at 1:54, but missed the freebie. On Carroll’s next possession they once again went to Stavetski, who came around a screen and neatly deposited a 16-foot left-wing jumper off a pass from jr. PG Yosef Yacob. Before these two HUGE shots by Stavetski he had just four points, on 2-for-5 shooting. Once again, but better late than never, right? Stavetski’s clutchness gave Carroll a 50-46 lead with 1:23 left. After this, La Salle failed on a one-and-one chance at 58.6. Yacob canned two free throws to push the lead back to six with 41 ticks left. La Salle still had a some fight in then, and drew within three on a left-corner three-pointer by jr. 6’6” Steve Smith with 23.8 left. After La Salle burned their final timeout, Yacob was immediately fouled. He connected on the second of two for a safer four-point lead. La Salle had three more attempts from the arc, but failed to connect before the final buzzer had sounded. The Patriots are headed to the PCL semifinals and the Palestra for the fourth straight season. If you told La Salle before the game that they would hold Stavetski and Yacob to a combined 20 points (Just 13 FG attempts), 10 below their combined league averages, then I think they would have felt very good about their chances. However, there are five players on the court at all times and when you’re involved in hotly-contested playoff games, then you need contributions from everyone. Head Coach Paul Romanczuk got just that from his three other starters, as well as a great team effort on the defensive end. The trio of Dominique, Jones, and Warren got Carroll off to a great start by scoring 13 of their teams 17 first quarter points. All total, this trio notched thirty points. Warren (10 pts., trio of 3’s) and Jones (8 pts., 12 boards, 2 blocks) combined to go 5-for-5 on 3’s. Dominique had a team-high 12 points (6-for-10 FG’s). The youngster Jones has interesting possibilities. He looked confident and relaxed on his two made threes, and is springy with long arms for a freshman.  Yacob finished with 11 points (5-for-6 FTs) and 5 assists, while Stavetski added 9 points and 4 boards. La Salle was led by Stukes, who scored 12 of his game-high 18 points (6-for-14 FG’s) in the fourth quarter. He also added 5 assists, 3 boards, and 2 steals. No other Explorer reached double-figures. Artis (3 steals) contributed nine points on three made triples. Jr. 6’4” F Ryan Winslow (nine) and Smith (eight) lead LaSalle on the backboard. Rodden added 7 points and 3 blocks. La Salle received no points from their bench on just one shot. La Salle shot 8-for-24 from the arc in the game. Also, they didn’t do themselves any favors by going just 5-for-12 from the line. Carroll will take on SJ Prep in one semifinal this coming Wednesday at the Palestra. These two teams wrapped up the regular season in a dandy that the Patriots won, 67-66, in double-OT. The other semifinal will feature three-time defending champs Neumann-Goretti versus Roman. These two teams also played an overtime affair during the regular season, as the Saints escaped with a 61-57 victory.

FEB. 15
CATHOLIC LEAGE FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF
O'Hara 45, Conwell-Egan 44
  Heading into this PCL 1st-round contest I knew that one of these schools would experience playoff success for the first time in a long while. C-E had never won a playoff game under their current name, and had only participated in three post-season games since their last win in a PCL Semifinal in '64 (nee Bishop Egan). The Lions' misfortune didn't go back nearly as far, but this was their first postseason game since '01, and they hadn't tasted victory since a pre-playoff decision in '00 over SJ Prep. So, who was going to break the winless playoff drought? For much of the game that team seemed to be the host Lions, who methodically, if not overly impressively, controlled matters from the get-go. They led 21-9 at the intermission, and twice expanded their leads to as large as thirteen points during the third quarter. First, 27-14, then later on at, 33-20. At this point, I don't think I'd be offending anyone if I suggested that we had a stinker on our hands, but boy did that tone change as the game moved on. At this level, I'd gladly sign-up for three quarters of eye-scratching, if the fourth quarter, and more specifically the waning moments could be so exciting and competitive. Let's head right to the latter stages, aka Goody-Land. Trailing 42-34, C-E star sr. 6'2" WG Jamal Nwaniemeka scored on a putback to cut the lead to six. Immediately afterwards, jr. F Mike Kelly made a steal and passed to Nwaniemeka, who canned a right-wing trey with 1:02 left to make the score, 42-39. O'Hara's jr. PG Mike Louden was fouled, but failed to convert the front-end of a one-and-one at 54.9 seconds. C-E tied the game when jr. PG Ryan Pepito, who had just re-entered the game after receiving a nasty cut around the eye area moments earlier, found sr. 6'4" F Bob McTague just to the left of the top-of-the-key for the big guy's second feathery trey of the quarter. Tied ballgame! Wow! Afterwards, O'Hara called a timeout. When played resumed, a long pass found a streaking jr. WG Sean Havink, who appeared to have a layup in front him. However, Nwanmieka hustled back into the play and forced Havink to hesitate and pivot on a spin move that was whistled as traveling. This gave the ball back to C-E with 20.3 left. Inbounding from under their own basket, the Eagles nicely were able to break O'Hara's trap/press, and once again Pepito scurried towards the lane and found sr. F Dylan Pease who calmly knocked down a 7-foot, left-of-the-lane bucket with 9.6 left in the game, thus giving the Eagles their first lead of the game at, 44-42. This was followed by another O'Hara timeout to draw up their final play. After the timeout, the ball was in-bounded to Havink, who stormed up court. As he approached the middle of the floor close to the top of the key, a second C-E defender collapsed towards him, allowing Havink to calmly kick a pass to sr. CG Pat Hagenbach, who was situated along the right-wing. Hagenbach accepted the pass with space and launched a healthy trey that found nothing but net as the horn sounded. His confidence was so high at the release that he immediately backpedaled towards halfcourt, where in time he was greeted by ecstatic teammates for a wild celebration. It was tough having to see the disappointment on the faces of the C-E players/staff during all of this. This was the final basketball game for the Eagles and you had to know that they wanted at least one more chance to lace them up and compete. On the other hand, it was cool to see the Lions rebound with a winning shot after having the game almost stolen from them in the final minute. Isn't this what it's all about? The Lions placed three players in double-figures; sr. 6'5" C-F Ed Allen (12 points, 10 boards), Louden (12 & 3 assists), and jr. CG Chris Duffin (10 points, 3-for-7 on 3's, 4 steals). Hagenbach scored one bucket real early, then missed a pair of threes in between his winning shot. However, he had a nice floor game with 7 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists, and a blocked shot. Jr. G Ray Harris did a very good job tracking Nwaniemeka in a box-and-one defense throughout. When he rested Hagenback took over. O'Hara was just 3-for-18 from the arc before Hagenbach's winner. With Nwaniemeka being hounded the Eagles looked confused for long stretches. Eventually, they were able to speed the game up and got a few better opportunities to score. Nwaniemeka did surpass the 1,000-point barrier (Finished with 1,009 career points) in the game, doing so with 1:46 left in the third quarter on a putback. Or, was it at the 3:40 mark of the third quarter? Hmmm. TS.com website numbers had his total at 989 prior to the game, so I assumed the feat would be had on his eleventh point of the game. However, the acknowledgement didn't come until a basket gave him 13 points. Oh well, it was done either way. Congrats! He became just the second C-E player (Also, Andrew Holland '02 -- 1,232; though JN's totals also included the points he brought with him for Dougherty) to do so. All total, JN finished with 20 points on 6-12 FGs (1 trey) and 7-for-8 at the line. He also added 11 rebounds, 4 steals, and a pair of swats. He did get his 20, but I think O'Hara can be happy in how they limited his chances for most of the night. At least three of his buckets came off broken type plays where the ball just found him in prime scoring position. Pease was the next highest Eagle with 7 points. M. Kelly finished with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Kudos to C-E for bringing a strong student section with them. Their school isn't exactly around the corner from O'Hara, but I'd venture to say that they had 70-80 strong with them. They took up a good part of the section across from their team's bench, and they were into the proceedings throughout. The Lions had some student support, but nothing organized or situated in the same area. With the win O'Hara get the unenviable task of heading down to the South Philly to take on top-seeded Neumann-Goretti. The Saints have only won 67 straight PCL regular season and playoff games.
 
CONWELL-EGAN MIN FG-FGA 3P-3PA FT-FTA OR DR TR AS ST BK PF PTS
Jamal Nwaniemeka (#1) 32 6-12 1-2 7-8 3 8 11 1 4 2 2 20
Ryan Pepito (#5) 28 1-4 0-1 0-0 0 3 3 3 1 0 2 2
Dylan Pease (#21) 16 3-8 0-2 1-4 2 1 3 1 2 0 2 7
Mike Kelly (#20) 29 1-6 0-2 2-2 1 5 6 4 1 0 2 4
Bobby McTague (#45) 28 2-5 2-4 0-0 0 1 1 0 4 1 4 6
Devin McCarthy (#33) 6 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2
Derek Jonas (#41) 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brian Carr (#23) 14 1-3 0-1 1-2 0 1 1 1 0 0 2 3
John Wasson (#50) 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Uriah St. Lewis (#4) 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS: 160 15-41 3-12 11-16 6 20 26 10 12 3 14 44
    36.6% 25.0% 68.8%                
 TEAM REBOUNDS            

 3

         
 TURNOVERS: 13                        
                         
O’HARA MIN FG-FGA 3P-3PA FT-FTA OR DR TR AS ST BL PF PTS
Ed Allen (#42) 32 6-10 0-0 0-0 3 7 10 1 0 1 1 12
Chris Duffin (#4) 19 3-8 3-7 1-3 2 0 2 1 4 0 4 10
Pat Hagenbach (#5) 29 2-4 1-3 0-0 3 4 7 3 5 1 2 5
Raymond Harris (#21) 23 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 1 0 3 0
Mike Louden (#21) 32 4-14 0-4 4-5 1 2 3 3 0 0 0 12
Sean Havink (#25) 21 3-12 0-5 0-0 1 1 2 2 0 0 1 6
Brandon Wassel (#20) 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
TOTALS: 160 18-50 4-19 5-8 11 14 25 10 10 2 12 45
    36.0% 21.1% 62.5%                
 TEAM REBOUNDS            

         
 TURNOVERS: 13                        
        TEAM 1 2 3 4        
        CE 4 5 13 22  --  44    
        OH 9 12 8 16  --  45