Written by: on Saturday, February 5th, 2022



A fourth quarter surge by Roman Catholic senior Daniel Skillings propelled his team to a 64-55 win over Philadelphia Catholic League rival Neumann-Goretti on Friday afternoon in a clash between two of the top teams in Pennsylvania. The game was closer than the final score suggests, as there were seven ties and five lead changes in the contest, which was played at St. Joseph’s Prep, although Roman was the home team. The game was telecast on a delayed basis by the Pennsylvania Cable Network and also can be viewed on YouTube. It was an outstanding game.

Both of these teams are leading contenders for PIAA state championships, Roman is Class 6A and Neumann is Class 4A. Although Neumann’s season has been interrupted by coronavirus issues, this perennially outstanding team should thrive in the state championship tournament.

With both teams opening in man-to-man defenses, Neumann took an early lead on hoops by 6′ 1″ senior Masud Stewart and 6′ 8″ junior Sultan Adewale. Roman countered with an inside attack led by Skillings, who scored on four dunks in the first quarter. Both offenses were in high gear in the first frame, a quarter in which the score was tied five times. In the pivotal strategic move of the game, Roman switched to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter, and it gave Neumann trouble. Early in the second quarter, Roman went on a 10-0 run on a pivot play by Skillings, a drive by junior Xzayvier Brown, a free throw by Skillings, a layup by Brown, and a three pointer by senior Khalil Farmer. That made it 27-21, Roman, and Neumann called a timeout with 2:53 left in the first half. In spite of an ally oop dunk and a three pointer by Neumann’s Stewart in the waning moments of the first half, Roman led by seven points at halftime. Significantly, Roman out rebounded Neumann 10 to five in the second quarter.

Neumann came out on fire in the second half, knotting the game at 33, with a 7-0 run consisting of a power move by Adewale, a three pointer by 6′ 2″ senior Aamir Hurst, and a fast break layup by Stewart. With momentum strongly in favor of Neumann, Skillings came up big with a three pointer. However, Neumann took the lead, 37-36, on a jumper by 5′ 11″ sophomore Kharfiq Myers and a fast break layup by 6′ sophomore Robert Wright III. Once again, Roman responded, this time with a three pointer by Brown to put his team up 39-37, and Roman led the rest of the way. Late in the third quarter, Roman was up by two points, and they extended the lead to 49-39 on an 8-0 run consisting of a hook shot by freshman Shareef Jackson, two free throws by Jackson, a jumper by Farmer, and a fast break layup by sophomore Toby Ojukwu. Neumann responded with a three pointer by Bruce Smith, and they went into the final quarter down by seven points.

Both teams opened the final frame with ferocious defenses, and neither team was able to score in the first three minutes of the final quarter. Then Neumann struck, with a drive by Hurst, followed by a Hurst steal leading to a three point play by Wright. That cut Roman’s lead to 49-47, and there was 4:08 left in the game. Skillings responded with a reverse layup, but Neumann’s Stewart countered with a three pointer, and Roman’s lead was down to 51-50. Then, Skillings hit a three pointer, and, after a free throw by Neumann’s Stewart. Skillings hit another shot from beyond the arc. With 1:27 left in the game, Roman led 57-51, and Neumann stopped playing defense a committed a series of deliberate fouls. That strategy never works, and it failed here, as Roman’s Brown made six consecutive free throws to seal the win.

Roman out rebounded Neumann 32 to 22. The teams each committed nine turnovers. Roman was 10 of 14 from the free throw line, while Neumann was four of 11. Roman made six three point shots, and Neumann made four from beyond the arc.

Roman has won seven consecutive games, and their league record is 9-1. Neumann is 5-2 in league games.

Roman Catholic scoring: Daniel Skillings 22, Xzayvier Brown 19, Khalil Farmer 13, Shareef Jackson 6, and Toby Ojukwu 4.

Neumann-Goretti scoring: Masud Stewart 18, Robert Wright III 11, Aamir Hurst 9, Sultan Adewale 8, Kharfiq Myers 6, and Bruce Smith 3.

Neumann-Goretti 19 7 16 13-55
Roman Catholic 17 16 16 15-64

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