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Wong’s star turn helps Bonner & Prendie exact Roman revenge

Bonner & Prendergast’s Isaiah Wong, seen in a game last year, scored 29 points, including the game-winning shot with six seconds to play, Sunday in a 59-58 win over Roman Catholic. (DFM File)

UPPER DARBY — All the occupants of Bonner & Prendergast’s gym were united in one notion Sunday afternoon. Whether wearing Roman Catholic purple and gold or Bonner green, had they been paying even an inkling of attention to the scintillating rematch of last year’s Catholic League final, they knew where the ball would go with Bonner down one point and 18 seconds remaining.

Somehow, some way, the ball would find Isaiah Wong.

And if that happened, the Friars stood a better than average chance of avenging that result from last February.

Wong delivered, his banked-in runner with six seconds to play spelling the difference in a 59-58 win for Bonner & Prendergast.

“On and off the court, everybody knows it’s coming to me,” Wong said. “But it’s on me to make the play because everybody knows they’re going to try to triple-team me, try putting the whole team on me. It’s on me to just figure out what shot I’m going to take for the best percentage. I felt like I did a good job.”

Among his myriad advantages as a player, Wong also benefits from knowing how many eyes would train on him, those of defenders and spectators alike. The Miami commit thrives in those moments, thanks to countless practice-court reps ensuring he’s ready when the stands are filled to the rafters as Sunday.

“Every time I do a drill, if I’m shooting like five threes, I always have a clutch shot at the end,” Wong said. “I do a crazy move and try to hit it at the end. If I miss, we lose a game and I’m thinking that in my mind. And if I make it, I’m happy to make it and go on to another drill.”

The reigning Delco Times Boys Basketball Player of the Year supplied a game-high 29 points to go with three assists, seven rebounds and two steals.

“He’s a great player,” Bonner forward Tariq Ingraham said. “We can count on him to make those shots, and I know everyone has his back.”

Sunday was the latest chapter in one of the Catholic League’s hottest rivalries of the moment. The Friars (10-0, 5-0) marked their arrival as title challengers last year by winning at Roman, 68-66 in overtime on Jan. 19 via an Ajiri Johnson slam at the buzzer. Roman one-upped them at the Palestra, Lynn Greer III dishing to Hakim Hart for the deciding basket with 1.6 seconds left in a 51-49 victory.

In Sunday’s battle of stars, Wong shined while Roman’s leading lights were dimmed. That didn’t include Hart, the Saint Joseph’s commit who was outstanding. He scored 27 points, including 11-for-11 from the line, grabbed seven rebounds and pocketed three steals. Hart was the destination of Roman’s final play, the senior streaking up the right-hand side of the court to the baseline, but his shot attempt was snuffed by a crowd of Friars.

Hart was unusually isolated. Seth Lundy fouled out with 5:14 left, the Penn State signee limited to five points. He and Chris Haynes picked up offsetting technical fouls after a held-ball scuffle in the first quarter, then Lundy got his third and fourth fouls in quick succession in the third before lowering his shoulder into Wong on a charge to be disqualified.

Greer was also quiet for three quarters, but the junior point guard stepped up late. He hit a 3-pointer with just over a minute to play to put Roman seemingly in control at 56-52. But Ingraham tapped home a second-chance basket before Wong came off a screen to nail a 3-pointer and surge Bonner back in front at 57-56 with 46.9 seconds left.

Greer, who finished with nine points, replied with a turnaround jumper in the lane, displaying his uncanny ability to create separation in the air. That made it 58-57 Roman with 26 seconds to play, and seemed like yet another game where the reigning PIAA Class 6A champs would get the last laugh.

But Wong helped Bonner flip the script in a game where it made the necessary adjustments. Roman (8-4, 4-1) led 18-10 after one quarter, with Bonner settling for too many jump shots. The Friars diversified their shot selection, and promptly rattled off a 14-2 run to start the second and led 31-26 at half.

One of the many subplots was the low-post battle between Ingraham and fab freshman Jalen Duren. Both had 10 points, but Ingraham won the rebounding battle, 11-7, as Bonner held a 33-25 edge on the glass. And where four of Duren’s baskets came on (albeit ferocious) slams, Ingraham showed the range to create off the dribble and generate space for teammates. He shot four first-half 3-pointers, but adjusted his game to a more lane-oriented attack.

“He’s a freshman and he’s new to this league,” Ingraham said of Duren. “He’s good, he’s big, but he didn’t box me out so I got a lot of rebounds over top of him. When that happens, I get those second-chance points and that helps me out with the team and gives me confidence.”

Donovan Rodriguez scored seven points, including a huge 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Cardinal O’Hara transfer Malik Edwards provided big minutes in the second half, with six points and three steals contributing to 15 Roman turnovers.

Duren’s classmate Justice Williams scored seven points for Roman, including a 3-pointer in the fourth. But the edge in clutch moments fell to Wong in a game that throws down the gauntlet for this season.

“Getting this win means we can really compete with them because some people had them over us,” Wong said. “And I felt like me and our coaching staff, we’re better than this team and I felt like we proved that today.”

Also in the Catholic League:

Bishop McDevitt 73, Cardinal O’Hara 68 >> Adrian Irving went off for 27 points, but the Lions couldn’t get by the Lancers. Solo Bambarra added 14 points for O’Hara (6-6, 0-5).

Archbishop Carroll 77, Devon Prep 53 >> Luke House (17 points) and Ny’Mire Little (13 points) each hit three 3-pointers as the Patriots canned 10 triples in a win late Saturday night. Tairi Ketner also scored 13 points, Zaiaire Jenkins-Johnson tossed in 12 and Amiri Stewart added 11 for the Patriots (7-4, 4-1).

Simeon Dorsey led Devon Prep with 18 points.

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