Nick Cusato is a South Philly guy and a graduate of the ol' St. John Neumann. He's an assistant coach the freshman and JV teams at Ss. Neumann-Goretti and a major hoops fan. Can be reached at Nicholas.Cusato@temple.edu or @NickyC28st on Twitter.
N-G 64, Wood 34
Wood came into this game with an impressive 7-2 record this year in the Catholic League. I knew N-G being home would give them a huge advantage, but I thought this game would be close and competitive, but it never really was. N-G came out and jumped on them 12-2, and a timeout was called at the 4 minute mark just after a nice pass by Billy Shank to Ja'Quan Newton in the lane for an "and 1" bucket. It was a tough 1st half and game all together for Wood's senior guard Kyle Adkins. He was being guarded full-court man-to-man by an aggressive defender all over the floor and just could never get the Wood offense in a rhythm. I was most impressed by Wood's Pat Smith, who lead them in scoring with 13 and just kept going after it all game. He also had a nice help block in the 1st half. Freshman Cody Fitzpatrick's first shot of the game hit the rafters (N-G's rafters aren't low at all). At Halftime the score was 34-22 N-G. There was a play on one of the first couple possession of the 2nd half where a bullet pass was thrown and was deflected right into an N-G cheerleaders face. She played it off well but I can tell it hurt. It was a bullet. John Davis had a couple offensive boards and tough
finishes inside during the 3rd quarter, and hit a spot of 3 that put N-G up 48-24. N-G's Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble also had a nice game off the bench and finished off the 3rd quarter with a nice drive to the bucket for an "and 1" basket. At this point, the game was in the bag and the final ended up being 64-34. N-G was led by Ja'Quan Newton with 22 and John Davis with 15. Pat Smith led Wood with 13 and Shane Neher had 7.
Neumann-Goretti 63 Roman 57 (OT)
The stands at Philadelphia University were full for this Catholic League rivalry and there were a bunch of big names in attendance such
as Fran Dunphy, Phil Martelli, and Jay Wright. N-G missed alot of easy buckets early in this game and Roman jumped on them early. N-G really didn't come out with a lot of energy and Roman seized the opportunity. N-G called a timeout at 3:50 in the 1st with the score 11-3 Roman, but came out of the timeout playing harder with La'Quan Coaxum into the game. Anybody who watches this kid play loves him. He plays D, rebounds, and drives the ball to bucket hard. Offensively Roman played very well in the first half, and I wasn't keeping track but they did not miss many shots. Another Roman run at the end of the 2nd quarter put them up 33-25 at the half. In the 2nd half N-G began it's comeback and it started with two John Davis and-1 buckets. Davis was N-G's best player in this game. A steal and a pass by Derrick Stewart up to Ja'Quan Newton for a layup tied the game at 39 at the end of the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter began with a Stewart and-1 bucket and a huge block by Davis. This game was a 1 or 2 possession game for the entire final 4 minutes. Secean Johnson had a nice and-1 bucket for Roman to put them within 1 with under 2 minutes left. After some Newton 1-and-1 free throws, and a nice drive and score by Shep Garner, Newton flew down the lane and made a nice dump off pass to Davis for a layup that put N-G up 54-51. On Roman's next possession a goaltending violation was called on Stewart which seemed like a clean block. The N-G fans in attendance really let the refs hear it after that call. Roman then fouled Coaxum, who made 1 out of 2 double bonus free throws. Garner then raced down the floor for a tough drive and score that tied the game with about 4 seconds. N-G proceeded to not call a timeout and race down the floor. The ball was knocked out of bounds off Roman under their hoop with .9 seconds left. After a timeout, a lob attempt in the middle of the lane was unsuccessful and we were going into overtime. Overtime began with 2 Davis free throws and then Newton grabbing a rebound and going coast to coast for a lay in. After turnovers by both teams and 2 Shafeek Taylor free throws, Coaxum was fouled and hit 1 out of 2 free throws to put N-G up 60-57. Coaxum then took a huge charge and N-G had the ball with 1:10 left. On the next possession after a timeout, Stewart had a put back slam to go up 62-57. N-G then fouled on what looked like a bad call and Britton Lee missed both free throws. Davis made 1 out of 2 free throws on the next possession and this one was over. This is the 2nd time in under a week that a team had a lead on N-G going into halftime and failed to hold on to it. N-G extends its Catholic League winning streak to 61 games. Billy Shank, who has been absolutely on fire shooting the basketball, finally cooled down. For N-G, Davis had 23 and 9, Newton had 20 and 6, Stewart had 5 and 14 with 4 blocks, and Coaxum had 9 and 3 steals. Roman was lead by Shep Garner who had 17 and Taylor with 14.
Neumann-Goretti 68, Judge 57
While coaching Neumann-Goretti's Freshman team with Georgie Hatton to our first win as coaches, I caught a glimpse of what the Crusaders were going to be about. They played as a team, could shoot the basketball, and loved to beat an overaggressive defense backdoor. I saw about 20 successful backdoor plays watching the Freshman, JV, and Varsity games. The game started and Neumann-Goretti seemed to take control in front of a nice crowd. Judge got back into the game after a timeout in the 1st quarter and the quarter ended at 13-11Neumann-Goretti. For Judge, Steven Griffin had 9 points in the 1st quarter, and for Neumann-Goretti John Davis finished the quarter with 7 points and 4 rebounds. An "and 1" basket by Steven Griffin in the 2nd quarter at the 5:39 mark gave Judge the lead at 18-17. This is when the crowd really started to get into this game and Judge's student section was in full effect. N-G's Billy Shank and Judge's Brian Hennessey exchanged 3-point baskets and shortly after a technical foul was called on Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale for a foul called on Derrick Stewart on a block that seemed very clean from where I was sitting. Derrick Stewart had a bunch of nice blocks in this game. Joe Robinson proceeded to miss both his foul shots, followed by 2 misses on the technical free throws by Sean Hanna. It seemed to silent the crowd a bit, until a steal and a dunk by Brian Hennessey to finish the half sent Judge into the locker room leading 32-30. The 2nd half began with Billy Shank drilling a 3, followed by three straight buckets for Judge by Joe Robinson, and then another Billy Shank 3 ball. There was a great drive and finish by La'Quan Coaxum at about the 2:30 mark of the 3rd, followed by a steal and "and 1" bucket by him at the 1:45 mark. A great move and bucket by Steven Griffin was then followed by a thunderous dunk on an incredible post move by John Davis. The crowd was going crazy and the roof would have came off if Brian Hennessey would have hit a 3 on the next possession; it went in and out. The 3rd quarter ended with Neumann-Goretti up 53-49. Neumann-Goretti controlled most of the 4th quarter, and there was a sweet finish by Ja'Quan Newton on a reverse layup. A big bucket by Hanif Sutton put Neumann-Goretti up 62-56 and you could feel that this one was over. This was one incredible game of basketball and Neumann-Goretti's Catholic League streak continues. For Neumann-Goretti, John Davis finished the game with 18 points, Ja'Quan Newton and Billy Shank both had 15, and La'Quan Coaxum had 12. For Judge, Steven Griffin ended with 20 points, followed by Brian Hennessey with 17, and Joe Robinson with 8.