PHILADELPHIA >> Roman Catholic was shorthanded before its Philadelphia Catholic League semifinal against Neumann-Goretti even started Wednesday night.
Roman’s talented freshman guard, Lynn Greer III, hurt his knee in warm-ups but tried to gut it out and play. After all, players don’ get many chances to play at the Palestra and the Cahillites were trying to make it three straight PCL titles.
Greer didn’t last long but his teammates sure did, giving the Saints everything they had before Goretti’s Villanova-bound big man, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree finished with a flourish in the fourth, propelling N-G to a 67-56 win at Penn’s famed arena in the first of two PCL semifinals.
“I was proud of our guys and their effort,” first-year Roman coach Matt Griffin said. “They gave a great effort. We didn’t execute the game plan 100 percent but I thought we did the best job we did all year of executing a plan.”
In the team’s first meeting, the Saints took apart Roman’s man-to-man defense, so the Cahillites switched things up on Wednesday, playing more 1-3-1 zone and trying to stick with N-G’s potent outside shooters. Roman had to play from behind almost from the jump with Greer exiting just a few possessions into the game, unable to play.
Cosby-Roundtree finished the game with 19 points, 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Goretti guard Quade Green, a Kentucky commit, scored 18 and hit a handful of big shots, including a deep 3-pointer just before the halftime horn.
“It wasn’t pretty but we got it done,” Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said. “The seniors came through late for us. I was a little worried, we had a couple guys who didn’t participate last year so you don’t know how they’re going to react. We got through it OK, but I’d like to see us play defense a little better.”
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) February 23, 2017
Roman got big games out of Seth Lundy and Allen Betrand. Lundy carried the team in the first half, scoring 14 of his 20 prior to the intermission with the rest of his guys struggling to score on Goretti’s defense. While Cosby-Roundtree was a problem for Roman, Lunday was likewise for N-G.
The forward, who can step out and hit 3-pointers, was a tough cover for N-G’s bigs due to his mobility.
Betrand put away 19 points, coming on strong in the second half at both ends of the court. Despite trailing, Roman was never too far behind and rallied in the third using a 9-3 spurt to tie the game 33-33 when Chris Kuhar set up a Lundy slam dunk.
Goretti however, had a retort waiting and closed the third on an 8-2 run.
“We had control of the tempo to the game where we wanted it then we gave up a couple baskets,” Griffin said. “We couldn’t recover. With a thin bench, we wore down and by the second quarter we were giving up second-chance points and it was too late. We did a lot of things right to get it to a tie game.”
Senior Da’Kquan Davis, one of the few Cahillites to have played the last time Roman was at the Palestra, scored 11 points, all in the fourth quarter.
Green scored six of his 18 in the fourth, but it was his pass to Cosby-Roundtree on the block with 6:28 left that seemed to really turn the tide. Cosby-Roundtree dunked that one, then he made two free throws and after another Green hoop, dunked back a missed shot with 4:45 left.
The 6-foot-8 forward had one more key second-chance hoop with 4:08 left, putting the Saints up 53-45.
“He’s the most improved player I’ve ever coached,” Arrigale said of Cosby-Roundtree. “From the day he walked into the gym, nobody that sees him now knows that guy. He couldn’t get up and down the court without being exhausted but one thing he always could do was catch so we believed we had the chance to get him better.”
Cosby-Roundtree also impacted the game on the defensive end, with 11 rebounds and four blocks.
“I’m just trying to stop them from scoring,” Cosby-Roundtree said. “I’m trying to change the game for my teammates.”
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) February 23, 2017
The last two seasons, Cosby-Roundtree and Green saw their PCL dreams dashed by Roman in the final. They knew this was their last chance to come out on top of the league and that certainly played a role in their second half efforts. Neither was big in the third, with Green scoring just three points and Cosby-Roundtree not even taking a shot, but when it was go time, they were ready.
“This is my last chance to win a Catholic League title as a starter,” Cosby-Roundtree said. “I’m trying to give it 120 percent every time so my fellow seniors and I can feel what it’s like to win a championship.”
Neumann-Goretti faces Archbishop Wood, a 75-66 winner over Archbishop Ryan, in Monday’s final at the Palestra. Arrigale faces his longtime friend and former assistant in Wood’s John Mosco.
Roman on the other hand, will be in the District 12-6A title game next and Griffin said while it was tough to leave Penn’s campus with a loss, there was plenty to like about his team’s effort in doing so.
“It was difficult for us and we gave all we had,” Griffin said. “We’re still getting better every day and we have a lot of basketball, hopefully, left to play. We’ll use this and learn from it and continue to grow. We’re fortunate enough to have that opportunity to continue to play and I saw one of our best efforts of the season.”
Neumann-Goretti 67, Roman Catholic 56
Roman Catholic 9 13 13 21 – 56
Neumann-Goretti 14 14 13 26 – 67
Roman Catholic: Da’Kquan Davis 4 2-7 11, Allen Betrand 6 6-8 19, JP Sanders 2 0-0 4, Seth Lundy 8 3-5 20, Chris Kuhar 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Lynn Greer III, Colin Flach, Quamere Garrick. Totals: 21 11-20 56.
Neumann-Goretti: Quade Green 7 2-2 18, Noah Warren 2 2-3 7, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree 6 7-8 19, Mike Milsip 3 0-0 7, Dymir Montague 2 2-3 7, Christian Ings 2 2-3 9. Nonscoring: Marcus Littles, Emil Moody. Totals: 22 15-19 67.
3-pointers: RC – Davis, Lundy, Betrand; NG – Green 2, Warren, Montague, Ings.