District 2 PIAA Boys 4A Second Round Recap (Scranton Prep vs. Neumann-Goretti)

Written by: on Saturday, March 12th, 2022

 

 

March 11, 2022

 

Saints Go Marching into Quarter-Finals

 

Neumann Goretti 57, Scranton Prep 51

 

By Phil T

BETHLEHEM – Looking back at recent history, the one constant for District 2 Boys’ inter-district hoops is an eventual date with Neumann-Goretti in the PIAA State Tournament.
In 2020, the Saints defeated Holy Redeemer 87-49, in 2019 they beat Wyoming Seminary 61-59 in a thriller, in 2018 they also defeated Sem (62-44) as part of their title run, in 2017 they topped Holy Redeemer 72-27 on their way to another championship, and in 2016 they broke the scoreboard in a victory over Scranton Prep, 113-71, en route to (you guessed it) the state title. 
The good news for Wyoming Seminary and Holy Redeemer is that the Philly Catholic League powerhouse is no longer in the AAA classification; the bad news for Scranton Prep was that they are now in the AAAA grouping.  For the Cavaliers, however, an impressive First Round upset over Middletown gave them renewed confidence.  And sometimes a talented team with a nothing-to-lose mindset can prove to be a formidable opponent.     
On Friday night, fans from both teams made the hour-long + trip to Freedom High School in Bethlehem where the Cavaliers would overcome three double-digit deficits before eventually falling to the Saints, 57-51.
Despite their reclassification into the AAAA classification, N-G would still sit atop the MaxPreps PA AAAA rankings.
Masud Stewart got the game going for the Saints with a triple, but a layup from James Pettinato and a breakaway bucket from Noah Sorensen gave the Cavs an early lead.
N-G would re-focus and go on an 11-0 run, with contributions from all five starters, giving the Saints a double-digit lead halfway through the opening frame.
Robert Rossi would end the run with a field-goal and spark a 6-2 spurt for Prep as they closed the deficit to seven points at the end of the first period (19-12).
Both teams would go cold to start the second quarter with neither team scoring for the first 3:30 minutes.  Robert Wright III would come up with a steal and finish at the basket for the frame’s first score and Stewart would follow his teammate up with a triple as the Saints rebuilt their double-digit lead.
Prep’s scoring drought would continue for five minutes until a drive to the basket from Matt Cobb got them on the board.  Andrew Ferguson would follow it with another run to hoop for a score, cutting the Neumann lead to eight, but a score from Sultan Adewale would give his team a ten-point cushion again.
Before the end of the half, Sorenson would hit a triple and Rossi would follow it with a layup as the Cavs kept pace with the Saints and trailed by seven at the halftime break, 28-21.  Over the opening 16 minutes Prep turned the ball over 12 times while their opponent gave the ball away twice.  The Cavs also benefited from an off-shooting night from the Saints as N-G shot 37% from the field, including 21% from beyond the arc in the first half.
With their opponents poor shooting performance lingering, Scranton Prep changed their defensive scheme, moving to a zone and closing down the paint.  Throughout the third stanza, the Saints would make cross-court passes, finding open looks from the arc, but they struggled to find the finishing touch as they would only convert one of their nine attempts from three-point land in the period.
After trading buckets for the first two minutes of the half, Sorenson got the Cavaliers rolling with a triple that sparked an 11-0 run.  As the rally continued and the gap narrowed, Ferguson hit a mid-range jumper cutting the Saint’s lead to one point.  And on the ensuing Prep possession Ferguson would come through again with a floater to give Scranton their first lead since the start of the game.  Khaafiq Meyers would have a opportunity to retake the lead at the foul line, but both of his attempts would be off the mark and Kellen Casey would make another bucket to extend the Cav’s advantage to three points (37-34).
After going scoreless in the first half, Bruce Smith would end the Prep run with a triple that tied the game at 37.  A bucket from Wright and another trip to the foul line for Meyers would regain the lead for the Neumann-Goretti, but a triple from Pettinato before the end of the quarter would trim the Saints lead to a single point, 41-40.
A shooting foul on Wright would get the Saints started in the final stanza and a triple from Smith would give N-G some breathing room.
Scranton Prep refused to roll over as Rossi answered back with a layup, however Wright would respond with a bucket of his own to put N-G’s lead back up to six.  Both teams would trade another bucket and with a slim, four-point, advantage the Saints made a strategic decision to be patient and begin to eat up time off the clock.  They would maintain possession for almost two minutes until an errant pass went out of bounds giving Prep possession with less than two minutes remaining on the game clock.
Rossi would waste no time, getting fouled 11 seconds later and converting both of his bonus free throw attempts, trimming N-G lead to a slim two-point margin.
Needing to hold N-G scoreless and regain possession, Prep pressed the Saints and played aggressive defense.  However, the Saints used some excellent passing, which was on display all night with a team total of nine assists, to find Adewale open under the basket for the easy bucket.  After a scoreless Prep possession, the Cavs were forced to send Wright to the foul line where he would convert both his chances.
Meyers would secure the victory for the Saints when he intercepted Pettinato’s pass and took it all the way for an easy breakaway bucket.  Ferguson would hit a triple with less than a minute to play, but this deficit had become a bit too much to overcome as Scranton Prep fell to Neumann-Goretti, 57-51.
Robert Wright III led the Saints to victory with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.  Aamir Hurst helped N-G establish their lead in the first half with four steals before the break.
The Cavaliers were led by two seniors with double-doubles, Andrew Ferguson finished with 15 points and ten boards while Robert Rossi scored 13 points and brought down 16 rebounds in the contest.
With the win Neumann-Goretti advances to the PIAA Boys’ 4A Quarterfinal where they will face District 11 Champion, Bethlehem Catholic, on Tuesday night.

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