Paul Schneider is a junior at Franklin Towne Charter High with an interest in sports and writing. What better way to get started than to join our nutty club? Paul plays hoops for the Coyotes and hopes to appear on this year's varsity. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome aboard, Paul!
Neumann-Goretti 68, Judge 57
Last year around the same time, I remember being at the NG-FJ game at Goretti and seeing a close match up where Father Judge star Steve Griffin had his coming out game against former N-G phenom (now St. Peter’s freshman) Lamin Fulton. In that game Griffin exploded for 29 points in a loss against NG but after that game every high school coach made sure they had a game plan for him. This information is relevant because like last year, Griffin put his team on his back but like last year, came up short against the defending back to back state champs. (I guess history repeats itself!) Many thought that Neumann-Goretti would come in and blow Judge out of their own gym -- in fact, a few Judge Players themselves thought so! Frustration was a problem early with the Goretti team after starting off a bit slow, maybe taking their opponents too lightly to begin the game. After a tech on Coach Arrigale, the style of play from the N-G players quickly changed back to what you would expect to see of the defending champs. With an overflowing student section, Father Judge took all the momentum in the first and second quarters especially after a two-handed jam by Judge sr Brian Hennessey (17 Points) to end the first half up by two (32-30 FJ). The momentum quickly changed starting the third quarter as N-G sixth-man sr La’Quan Coaxum (a teammate of mine at CD) entered the game and scored eight of his twelve points to give N-G a four point lead going into the fourth quarter. A solid game by FJ jr Joe Robinson (8 points 12 rebounds) allowed Judge to stay close against the two overpowering N-G defenders (jr John Davis and sr Derrick Stewart). As most people would expect, NG sr Billy Shank (15 points) nailed two of his three treys when his team needed him in the 3rd and fourth quarters, showing that his senior leadership would help guide his squad to another CL victory. Ja’Quan Newton also displayed his skill set scoring fifteen points and helping his team every way he could, with or without the ball. Outscoring Father Judge 15-8 in the fourth quarter, N-G took an 11 point win but ultimately, I believe got lucky because this game was closer than it may seem by the score. Carried by Hennessey and Griffin, Father Judge showed some potential to cause damage later this season as a sleeper. Also, bringing back four starters next year, they could be a very talented team.
St. Joe's Prep 71, Father Judge 57
I arrived at Father Judge a bit early, to ensure myself that I could be able to get a good seat to enjoy the game of the night. I found myself a bit too early and caught a glimpse of the JV game as I waited for the varsity game to start. Marquis Seamon (Also a FJ Football player) stole the show with an impressive almost half-court buzzer beater to beat Prep’s JV squad by a score of 47-46. I’m sure the varsity players were hoping some momentum would come into effect from the crowd, and in the first quarter, it did. With jr Steve Griffin leading all scorers in the first quarter with 13 points, Judge took an eight point lead heading into the second quarter (22-14). Early 2nd quarter foul trouble haunted Griffin and caused him to miss most of the second quarter due to his three personal fouls. While he was on the bench, Notre Dame commit jr G/F Stephen Vasturia, highly regarded as the top player in the Catholic League, took over with 15 points (19 at half) in the second quarter alone to give Prep a nine point lead going into half (36-27). At half, I took a look around the gym to see a staggering amount of coaches watching two stars, Vasturia and Griffin lighting up the gym, and I thought to myself “How are they going to come up with a game plan for these guys?” It seemed quite impossible because Vasturia did it all, in the post and from behind the arc. Griffin followed up with his impressive dribbling skills and momentous shooting ability that I couldn’t believe these guys were only juniors! Though both had great games, impressive play by jr Jeff Seigafuse (8 points) of the Crusaders and jr Miles Overton (18 points) of Prep also took notice to everyone in the gym. Griffin came out of the gate hot scoring 12 of Judge’s 17 points in the third quarter. As Father Judge came within seven points of Prep ending the third quarter, (51-44) an impressive 20-12 run through the fourth quarter gave Prep a 14 point victory to notch another win in the Catholic league. Vasturia finished the game with an astonishing 31 points-13 rebounds-4 assists and Griffin finished with 29 points-4 assists. Slow offense play and ineffective execution of the pick and pop offense couldn’t work against a defensive disciplined Prep squad. While Stephen did his part, perhaps most importantly, great ball movement by jr PJ Kelly (10 pts 6 ast) of Prep allowed open shots for their Big Three, (Vasturia, Overton, Williams). The anonymous player of the game is obviously Vasturia, who if he keeps this play up will most likely see MVP of the Catholic League by the end of the year. After this performance, Vasturia had proven to me he can ball with anybody in the Catholic League, or better yet, the state!
Murrell Dobbins 73, Abraham Lincoln 55
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers haunted the Lincoln Railsplitters' offense the whole entire game against Murrell Dobbins. Led by sr PG Daquan Brown (10 pts 7 Ast), Dobbins' explosive, fast-paced offense jolted to an early lead that Lincoln could never overcome throughout all four quarters of the game. Missed lay-ups, bad chemistry, and all around foolish decisions caused the Railsplitters to let this game get out of reach. Though offensive possessions were a struggle to even accomplish for Lincoln, F Adonis Rosario (19 pts) dominated the boards and led the team in scoring. Leadership of PG’s Ismail Wilson (12 pts) and Anthony Caruso (5 steals 3 blocks) kept Lincoln fighting strong to finish off as hard as they could, though being down throughout the entire game. It seemed as if Dobbins jr G Dequan Jackson (14 points) was in possession of every fast break, and before leaving the game for good he slammed down a two handed jam to end the 3rd quarter. Also, sr F/C Malik Fisher (11 pts) made his presence felt off the bench, giving Dobbins size and athleticism to offset Rosario. Dobbins sr G Kiwuan Trawick (16 pts) carried his team in the first half, but after a defensive adjustment in the second half, he was unable to put down any baskets. Surprisingly, Caruso made his presence felt on the defensive side by leading his team with 3 blocks, even outdoing C Michael Bowlers (8 pts 2 Blks) to lead the team. I don’t believe I'm able to recollect any offensive possessions (plays) because this game was what I would call a two-team fast break contest in which Dobbins dominated. Their team speed was no match for what a shaky Lincoln defense could handle. It was sure that Coach Al Brown of the Railsplitters missed the presence of last year's main seniors, Rickey Savage and Ronald Rollins, on the defensive side of the game. In all, I must say Dobbins can be a real competitor to make it deep into the playoffs, as long as their size doesn’t catch up to them. Less mistakes and more chemistry were the reasons Dobbins was able to win by a score of 73-55.
Player of the Game
Dobbins PG Daquan "Day-Day" Brown (10 Points, 7 Ast)