Half Time: Boys Hoops Reaching the Playoffs

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Half Time: Boys Hoops Reaching the Playoffs

Will P. '20, Staff Writer

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The Philadelphia Catholic League defending champion varsity basketball team is off to a rough start to their season. The team is looking to defend their title this season despite losing key players to last season’s team in Hakim Hart (University of Maryland), Seth Lundy (Penn State University), and Louie Wild to (Olympus Prep), all members of the class of 2019. The team also returned three starters in Senior Lynn Greer and Sophomores Jalen Duren and Justice Williams.
The season started Thursday, December 12th with an 89-46 statement win verse Lansdale Catholic High School at home. The team was able to get a Catholic League win under their belt before entering a tough part of their schedule verse non-league competition. It started that Saturday afternoon vs Methacton High School in the Diane Mosco Shootout at Archbishop Wood High School. The Cahillites were able to walk away with a close 59-52 victory with key performances coming from role players Kyle Maska, Quadir Brown, and Xzayvier Brown.
The team had a few days of rest before flying down to Fort Myers, Florida on Tuesday, December 17th for the City of Palms Classic. One of the nation’s top tournaments for elite high school basketball teams. After settling in, the first game would be played Wednesday night at 9:15 PM at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena verse the defending City of Palms champion McEachern High School Indians. After taking an early twelve point lead in the second quarter the Cahillites could not hold on, falling 69-65 to McEachern to give them the first loss of their young season. The next day in a rebound effort, the Cahillites defeated Marshall County High School in a whopping 79-26 victory, improving their record to 3-1. In their final game of the City of Palms Classic, Roman lost 54-46 to an overall dominant Vashon High School team from St. Louis, Missouri. This would send the team home with a record of 3-2 with arch-rivals Imhotep Charter next on the schedule just after Christmas.
Roman’s next two games were big ones, defeating Imhotep Charter 56-51 in a nail biting victory at Jefferson University in the Scholastic Play by Play Classic, then Camden High School just a few days later at Cherry Hill East High School. Both wins came in sold out gyms that gave fans barely enough room to breathe. The exact environment this team loves to win in!
After two big wins close to home the team hit the road for Wheeling, West Virginia and the Cancer Research Classic. Another highly touted high school basketball showcase that would be streamed on national television via ESPN3. Roman’s first game was against top ten team in the country Wasatch Academy from Utah. Roman was outmatched by their opponent both inside and on the perimeter leading to a twenty point 72-52 loss. Before heading home, Roman was served another loss at the hands of La Lumiere High School with a final score of 68-62. Roman’s record then fell to 5-4 with a long season of Catholic League play ahead of them.
In their first game back home Roman faced PCL rival Monseigneur Bonner High School and took yet another heartbreaking loss despite an impressive 37 points from senior guard Lynn Greer. With a final score of 81-72 this was the first time Roman lost a game at Broad and Vine in over six years! Hungry now to destroy the Catholic League, Roman ripped off three straight wins in blowout fashion verse Conwell Egan Catholic, Devon Prep, and Father Judge. However they knew that their two hardest tests had yet to come.
Roman’s next two games were their biggest of the season by far. First up, Neumann-Goretti High School on Friday, January 17th at Neumann. The game was set to start at 7:00 PM but Neumann’s tiny gym was completely flooded with people by 5:30, which was the start of the JV game. The score was close all game, but Roman was able to enter the fourth quarter with a five point lead. Neumann-Goretti hit a couple of key shots late in the fourth quarter to tie the game and give Roman the final shot. Senior guard Lynn Greer was unable to get the shot off that he wanted and the game was sent into overtime. After a back and forth overtime where almost every basket was scored at the free throw line the two teams found themselves in a similar situation. The game was tied and there was very little time left on the clock, only this time Neumann had the ball. As time expired Neumann’s high scorer of the night, Jordan Hall, was able to get what he thought was an uncontested layup off. Then Roman’s sophomore center came flying out of no where to send the shot into the stands! The game would go into DOUBLE overtime. After missing multiple shots from the free throw line in double OT Roman was unable to keep up and lost the game 77-69. Despite the loss, Roman’s stars shined with standout performances from sophomore Jalen Duren (27 points 18 rebounds) and senior Lynn Greer (17 points 9 rebounds.)
After a tough loss to Neumann-Goretti, Roman’s next game was shaping up to look very much the same. Late in the fourth quarter the Cahillites found themselves tied 74-74 against the Archbishop Wood Vikings, and much like the game verse Neumann, they could not get the final shot to fall. Sending the game to overtime. Roman was nearly dominant during OT, but Wood stuck around. With just 1.3 seconds left on the clock Roman found themselves with an 85-83 lead. Wood only had time to get one shot off from a baseline out of bounds play under their own basket… and they got it. Junior guard Jalen Stinson from Wood hit a buzzer beater three to send the game into double overtime yet again. So for the second time in just three days Roman would play a double overtime game. Unfortunately, this one would go just like the last. Roman fell to Wood with a final score of 94-92 despite another standout performance from sophomore Jalen Duren (34 points 21 rebounds) and his partner in crime sophomore Justice Williams (30 points 10 rebounds.)
 These two crushing double overtime losses verse two of the best teams in the league made Roman’s next game against Archbishop Carroll an absolute must win. The game was played on Friday, January 24th at Community College of Philadelphia and was considered a home game for Roman. With a 7pm start time and a JV game prior it was setting up to be yet another sellout. Despite Archbishop Carroll knocking down most of their shots from deep the Cahillites were able to pull out a comfortable 76-70 win that was much needed. Key performances came from senior Lynn Greer with 25 points, sophomore Justice Williams with 23 points, and sophomore Jalen Duren with 15 points and 15 rebounds!
More recently, the Cahillites beat St Joseph’s Preparatory School on Sunday, January 26th at 2:30 PM on the road at St Joe’s Prep. This game held special meaning because Roman’s head coach Matt Griffin was a graduate of St. Joe’s Prep and faced off against his former coach and Roman legend Speedy Morris one last time before Speedy’s impending retirement.   This game set off a string of other key PCL victories including wins against West Catholic (75-44), LaSalle College High School (62-42), Cardinal O’Hara (77-70), and Archbishop Ryan (74-61) and a tough loss to Bishop McDevitt. Victories in the PCL Championship Tournament include a win over Bonner-Prendergast and a PCL semifinals victory over top-seeded Archbishop Wood.
February 24th is the PCL Championship where our Cahillites will rematch Neumann-Goretti. Our Cahillites are in a strong position to finish out the season near the top of the PCL and its playoffs!