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Wong, Ingraham have Bonner & Prendergast sitting pretty

UPPER DARBY >> A season ago, with a berth to the PIAA Class 5A tournament on the line, Bonner & Prendergast came up short against Archbishop Carroll twice in one week. The Friars had made progress under coach Jack Concannon, but the pieces weren’t quite there yet.

So as a contingent of upperclassmen who led the Friars out of the 2-20 doldrums of 2013-14 graduated, Concannon had spots to fill on his team. And the two primary names that filled the void showed just how big they are Friday.

Isaiah Wong and Tariq Ingraham both played like blue-chippers, the junior transfers keying a 79-72 win for the Friars over Carroll in a pulsating affair before a raucous capacity crowd.

Wong was unstoppable in the first half with 15 of his game-high 29 points, and he found time to collect 12 rebounds and five assists. Ingraham stepped in late, supplying 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Friars (18-3 overall, 11-1 Catholic League) had the final say in a seesaw battle to get within one win of a regular season Catholic League title.

The symbiosis between Wong and Ingraham is clear and infinitely variable. In the first half, the threat of Ingraham’s presence looming in the lane drew defenders out for Wong’s sorties to the hoop. After the break, with Wong face-guarded off the ball, Ingraham’s skill off the bounce and his deft touch to receive passes and go up strong kept the offense chugging along.

“He’s a great player,” Wong said. “I just love how he plays. It makes the game easier for us guards because we’ve got a post player, we’ve got a shot-blocker, we’ve got a complete team.”

“He attracts a lot of attention, and that gets us open,” Ingraham said. “Then we attract the attention that gets him back open. It’s a back-and-forth game.”

That one-two punch — plus a five-point possession in which Mike Perretta was fouled on a made 3-pointer and Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk was assessed a technical foul for his protests — had Bonner & Prendergast up 17 points at 33-16 midway through the second quarter.

But Carroll (14-6, 8-3) didn’t wilt. It scored the final 10 points of the first half, fueled by five from sparkplug reserve Nymire Little, to get into halftime trailing 40-36. A Luke House 3-pointer out of the break stretched the run to 15-0 and dragged Carroll all the way back, up 41-40.

“Our coach told us we’ve got to stay resilient,” guard Justin Anderson said. “Even though we’re down 15, we have to play like we’re up five or something. When we were down 15, we kept fighting and fighting and fighting, trying to get back into it.”

Bonner, though, responded with a 10-0 spurt, featuring six points from Wong and capped by Wong orchestrating a 2-on-1 fastbreak and threading a bounce pass to Ajiri Johnson for a lay-in.

“Everybody knew they were going to double-team me, try to pressure me and try to get the ball out of my hands,” Wong said. “I was trying to avoid that. For me, I was trying to get transition buckets as easy of buckets as I can.”

Bonner led by 10 after three quarters and looked set to close it out. But Anderson supplied three fourth-quarter triples and AJ Hoggard hit a pair to narrow the deficit to four at 75-71 before Bonner & Prendie iced the game at the line.

Johnson chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds, including a rim-rocking putback slam in the first quarter that got the crowd to its feet and a simultaneous dunk with Ingraham in the third quarter in which Johnson, per Ingraham, basically dunked Ingraham’s hands around the ball. Bonner & Prendie got subtle contributions throughout the roster, with seven players scoring, including Chris Haynes and Yohance Garner supplying run-enhancing, first-half 3-pointers.

Hoggard led the Patriots with 20 points, plus six board and five assists. Anderson added 17 points, though he attempted just 12 field goals. Keyon Butler had 14 points (albeit on 13 shot attempts) and seven boards. Carroll committed a paltry three turnovers, but that translated into 22-for-70 shooting from the field (31.4 percent) and 11-for-31 from 3-point land (35.5).

The win has Bonner on the precipice of a regular-season title, which could be the first of many accolades this team collects.

“It really wasn’t a goal for us, but I knew we were going to be top three, top two,” Wong said. “We were going game-by-game, and every time we were going game-by –game, we kept winning. We had a lot of teams that were pressuring us, but we did good.”

Also in the Catholic League:

Cardinal O’Hara 68, Lansdale Catholic 62 >> Antwuan Butler scored 20 points and powered a 23-9 edge in the third quarter as the Lions (10-10, 5-7) evened their record.

Kevin Reeves added eight points, and Tre Dinkins tossed in seven as 10 Lions scored.

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