SPRINGFIELD >> The La Salle boys basketball team was in position to pull off the upset Monday night against Neumann-Goretti.
The Explorers trailed by two points halfway through the fourth quarter before the Saints went on an 8-0 run to pull away in what was a 55-47 Neumann-Goretti Philadelphia Catholic League win at La Salle College High School.
“We should have had more poise,” La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said. “I thought we had them ready to crack. We lost our poise. We just weren’t poised. We had 18 turnovers and there were just some critical moments in the game. It got away from us at the end, but the damage was done with all those fruitless possessions. When you play a team like Neumann-Goretti you cannot make that many mistakes.”
Goretti center Marcus Littles picked up his fourth foul with 5:16 left in the game and a 37-33 lead. Immediately after he exited, La Salle’s Zach Crisler found Kahlil Diarrah under the basket to make it a two-point game.
Then the Saints (11-3, 6-0) rattled off eight straight and never looked back. Ja’Cor Smith and Noah Warren made baskets before Chris Ings hit four straight free throws to make it a 10-point Goretti lead.
Including Ings’ four straight makes, the Saints went 10-for-12 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
Warren scored a game-high 17 points, Littles added 11 and Ings and Dymir Montague each had 10.
Explorers (10-5, 3-3) guard Titus Beard scored a team-high 11 points, Allen Powell added 10 and Sean Simon 8.
The Explorers never led in their 50-35 loss to Archbishop Wood Friday night and a big reason was because they were down 10-2 late in the first quarter.
Monday didn’t start any better.
Neumann-Goretti scored the game’s first 11 points. La Salle evened the score at 19, but, again, never took the lead.
“We had to get off to a good start,” Dempsey said. “We didn’t. We turned the ball over. We lost their best shooter in a zone. We just weren’t dialed in. We’re just struggling right now but we have to find a way to stop the bleeding.”
La Salle star junior Konrad Kiszka missed Monday’s game for undisclosed reasons. The team was also without him in Friday night’s loss to Archbishop Wood.
“We miss his energy,” Dempsey said. “We miss his athleticism. We miss his ability to get to the rim, but what are you going to do?”
Finding a positive
Without one of their best players, La Salle stood toe-to-toe with perennial PCL powerhouse Neumann-Goretti.
“On Friday and Monday we didn’t play our best basketball and the game was still there to be had,” Dempsey said. “It wasn’t like we had no chance. We fought through a bad start and we’re at home. We were down four to start the second half and got it down to two. I thought we were playing pretty well.”
Neumann-Goretti 55, La Salle 47
Neumann-Goretti 14 9 11 21 — 55
La Salle 6 13 9 19 — 47
NG: Chris Ings 2 5-6 10, Ahmad Fair 0 1-2 1, Dymir Montague 4 1-2 10, Noah Warren 6 2-2 17, Hakim Byrd 0 2-2 2, Ja’Cor Smith 2 0-0 4, Marcus Littles 5 1-4 11. Total 19 12-18 55.
LS: Allen Powell 4 0-0 10, Sean Simon 3 0-0 8, Marvin Harrison 0 0-0 0, Matt McMahon 2 0-0 6, Titus Beard 3 5-6 11, Zach Crisler 2 1-2 5, Kahlil Diarrah 1 0-0 2, Jack Rothenberg 2 1-2 5. Total 17 7-10 47.
Three-point goals: NG: Chris Ings, Dymir Montague, Noah Warren 3. LS: Allen Powell 2, Sean Simon 2, Matt McMahon 2.
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