PHILADELPHIA >> All six-feet, eight-inches of Villanova commit Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree elevated slightly and dropped in the first points over a sea of humanity.
Kentucky commit Quade Green scored the next bucket on a silky smooth reverse layup that left you muttering, how did he do that?
It was two blue-chippers too much for Archbishop Carroll. The Patriots fought to the finish Friday night in that steamy, headache-inducing bandbox Neumann-Goretti calls home. And they still exited on the wrong end of 73-55, Cosby-Roundtree leading all scorers with 22 points and Green contributing 14 to the Philadelphia Catholic League playoff success.
“Even when they take one or two guys out or you get one or two guys in foul trouble some of the guys on the bench are just as good, just as strong and can play, as well,” Patriots coach Paul Romanczuk said. “It’s a deep team and one I think is going to go far in our playoffs. I think they’re going to be really difficult to beat at the Palestra. And I think they’re going to be really difficult to beat in the state tournament. That’s a really good basketball team.”
The consolation prize for the Patriots (16-8), who suffered a 12-point loss earlier this season to the Saints, is a playoff early next week with Bonner-Prendergast. The survivor can make noise in the state tournament.
“I’m ready to kick some butt, excuse my language,” said Carroll’s Khari Williams, who fouled out with 14 points. “After this loss I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t sad. I just got hungrier. We’re not going down to the Palestra. We can’t win the PCL. Now it’s the state championship, and that’s the main goal now. Everybody is hungry for this.”
The Saints (17-6), who got 10 points from guard Christian Ings and eight points in the low post from 6-9 giant Marcus Littles, take on Roman Catholic in the PCL semis. When the Cahillites watch video of the Saints’ win over Carroll, they will be reminded, just as the Patriots were, why Jay Wright and John Calipari visited 10th and Moore.
“We weren’t backing down at all,” Williams said. “We were ready for war. We knew it was going to be a war. It didn’t turn out in our favor. We were ready. It might have been blown up even worse than it was if we weren’t ready. Like I said, after this we’re hungry, ready for anything that comes into our path to destroy it. We’re ready to eat anything on our plate.”
The Saints never trailed against Carroll. Cosby-Roundtree and Green combined for 14 points to stake them to a 22-12 lead entering the second quarter. Cosby-Roundtree had two of his five dunks in the frame. He dunked in every quarter for the Saints, who led by as many as 18 points in the second quarter before fading slightly. The Patriots could get no closer than eight points in the second half, the second of Colin Daly’s three three-pointers bringing the Carroll faithful to their feet.
“Playing Carroll is always a tough game,” Cosby-Roundtree said. “It’s like playing the Roman’s, the Wood’s. They’re always a tough team to play against. They competed. In the beginning of the first half I felt like we had them, but they came back and knocked it down to a nine- or 11-point lead. They’re a good team. They always compete and it’s always fun playing against them.”
The Saints did almost everything right. They stayed comfortably ahead in the final frame by sinking 10 of 12 free throw attempts.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half of working for our shots a little bit more and not just jacking the first or second available shot,” Romanczuk said. “We had some runs in us but we had dug ourselves too deep of a hole. It’s tough to match up with their physicality, their size inside. And they’re very aggressive defensively out on the perimeter. … I think their defense is underrated.”
Like Williams, Romanczuk appreciates the opportunity to add another chapter to the Patriots’ season. After a rough loss, the game cannot come soon enough.
“Anything to play more meaningful basketball games at the high school level is a great thing,” Romanczuk said. “Obviously we just played them not too long ago. When you’re playing for something as big as a state tournament berth I think it’s only right to settle it on the court there. And even though we beat them, we were home. It was our senior night. We had some stuff going for us there. So we’ll see. We’ve got to beat them again.”