BETHLEHEM — Tariq Ingraham sat on the sideline and watched as Nanticoke carved up the Bonner & Prendergast zone defense. A pass to the high post then a quick swing to Trojans point guard Nate Kreitzer for a 3-pointer. Two possessions later, a dump to the baseline forced the Friars defense to collapse and left Kreitzer open for the second of his five triples for the game.
The second team All-Catholic selection sat for much of the first half with foul trouble after having not played in the Friars opening round victory over Littlestown due to a busted lip. He had seen enough of Kreitzer and the Trojans carving up the Bonner & Prendergast zone.
Ingraham scored 10 points in the second half to go along with nine rebounds and three blocks while Isaiah Wong broke out for 11 points after the intermission in addition to corralling nine boards of his own as the Friars rolled to a 70-52 win over Nanticoke in the second round of the PIAA Class 4A Tournament at Freedom High School.
The 6-8 Ingraham forward asserted himself late in the third quarter with his first basket of the game, which gave Bonner & Prendergast (20-5) its first lead at 40-38. That bucket began a streak of eight straight points, which pushed the lead to five with 7:23 remaining.
In the Friars’ perimeter-oriented offense, Ingraham was able to find his opportunities and made the most of them.
“It’s a team full of guards so when I get in I’m mostly in with Isaiah and Tyrese (Watson) so I need to be able to handle the ball and handle it under pressure,” Ingraham said.
Kreitzer led the way for Nanticoke (22-8) in the opening half scoring 22 of his game-high 29 points. He scored eight of the final 10 points in the second quarter to give the Trojans a 33-25 advantage heading into halftime. The Friars continually switched off of Nanticoke’s shooters and they took full advantage going 8-for-15 from deep.
Friars head coach Kevin Funston credited the Trojans for their superb shooting but knew his team’s lackadaisical defense was also a factor early on.
“They were shooting the lights out and they played really well,” Funston said. “I didn’t think we were playing with the energy that we needed. I had to remind them of what we needed to do and what the game plan was. I told those seniors this could be your last game at Bonner.”
After being held to no points and only attempting three shots in the first 16 minutes, Wong, the two-time Philadelphia Catholic League Most Valuable Player, began playing with in an edge at both ends to start the third. He scored the first four points of the quarter and his and-one finish at the 2:47 mark tied the game at 38-38. Defensively, he was in Kreitzer’s back pocket the entire second half, limiting the sharpshooter to 2-for-4 from the floor and forcing other players to beat the Friars defense.
Nanticoke head coach John Beggs couldn’t have been more pleased with the first-half result but his team was unable to maintain that momentum.
“We were committed to Wong, not letting him shoot the ball,” Beggs said. “We were going to pinch him and it worked to perfection in the first half. We had a great defensive plan in the first half and I think it wouldn’t have changed much in the second but we started turning the ball over.”
The Friars advanced to play PCL rival Archbishop Carroll, a 74-62 winner over Lancaster Catholic, in the quarterfinals on Friday. Funston is hoping Ingraham can continue to build off of this game.
“When he plays like that, we’re a really dangerous team,” Funston said. “I just think he gives us a lot more confidence on both ends of the court when he’s playing like that.”
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