READING >> Jesse McPherson doesn’t mess around.
When he’s manning the inside of the paint, the Archbishop Carroll senior forward is difficult to evade. Don’t come in his space or he’ll make you pay.
Palmrya found out the hard way on multiple occassions Thursday night at Reading High’s Geigle Complex.
“Definitely,” McPherson said. “I have pride. I have to protect the basket and I have to pick up my guys.”
McPherson was a monster in the middle and played an all-around outsanding game, finishing with a season-high 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in Carroll’s 78-41 rout of District 3 sixth-place finisher Palmyra in the second round of the PIAA Class 5A tournament.
“In our first game in states, we had a good first half and then we let up a little bit. We didn’t want that to happen tonight,” McPherson said. “We just wanted to leave no doubt in anybody’s mind.”
There was a brief lull in an otherwise tremendous showing by the Patriots. For the most part, they held a double-digit advantage, but Palmyra cut its deficit to nine points by the end of the second quarter.
Foul trouble gave Palmyra the idea that it could hang with the Patriots. Carroll committed 10 infractions, which enabled Palmyra to shoot 8-for-9 at the free-throw line in the second quarter.
“We needed to continue to have our pressure defense, but do it without fouling,” Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. “I thought in the second quarter, it kind of got away from us as par as getting a little handsy and a little tired maybe. They were able to slow the game down a little bit and get to the free-throw line.
“I thought our defense was great in the first quarter and great in the second half, but there were some let-ups in the second quarter.
No worries. The Patriots put the game out of reach with a 22-7 spurt in the third. They limited Palmrya 5-for-25 shooting after halftime.
AJ Hoggard had seven points, and Colin Daly added five in the third period. The Cougars couldn’t match up with the Patriots’ speed and athleticism.
“I feel like when we step it up on defense, we have a really tough press and that brings everything together,” McPherson said. “When we execute, and get up and down the court, I feel like we just feed off that. It gets us all going.”
Hoggard continues to amaze in his freshman season. He led the Patriots with 17 points and six steals. He had a stretch in the second quarter where he completely dominated on both ends on the
Nothing seems to deter Hoggard on a basketball court. It seems the big stage brings out his best game.
“I don’t really believe in pressure,” he said. “I just try to go out and play the way I know how.”
He knows how to do a little bit of everything on the floor, which has made him an intriguing Division I prospect.
“That’s my man,” McPherson said. “Only a freshman and he’s doing a lot for us.”
Two wins away from Hershey, there could be no slowing down either McPherson or Hoggard.
“We just want to keep our level head and continue to play hard,” Hoggard said. “Just keep playing how we normally do and keep getting the wins.”