Neumann-Goretti holds off La Salle to reach PCL final

PHILADELPHIA — In Game 2 of the Philadelphia Catholic League playoff semifinals at the Palestra, top-seeded Neumann-Goretti topped La Salle, 70-65, in a matchup that mimicked the close finish of the Roman Catholic, Archbishop Carroll bout.

Down as much as 53-40, La Salle clawed its way back into the game with a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter with time ticking down.

Eventually, the Saints would push their lead back up to 59-55 with three minutes to go, but the Explorers continued to hang around and got to within 63-62 of Neumann-Goretti with 1:29 remaining.

But as the Explorers continued to send the Saints to the foul line with hopes of getting the ball back and one or two free throws off the mark, Neumann-Goretti executed from the stripe and denied La Salle the comeback.

N-G’s Zane Martin was especially critical down the stretch for his squad as he hit 6-6, 8-8 in the game, from the line and finished third on his team in scoring with 12 points.

Even though Martin was detrimental to La Salle’s hopes for a PCL final, Quade Green and Lamarr Kimble were the major thorns in the side of the Explorers’ game plan.

Green cashed in for a game-high 26 points as he nailed five three-balls, four coming in the first half, while Kimble used his speed and frame to muscle into the paint and finished for 23 on the night.

The Explorers saw their best performance come from big man Dave Krmpotich as he scored 22 points and matched Green with 15 in the first half alone.

La Salle’s Najee Walls and Dan Corr were vital in keeping the Saints at arms length as the two combined for three long balls in the final frame and finished with 13 and 10, respectively.

The Saints led from start to finish, closing out the first quarter with a 15-11 advantage over the Explorers thanks in large part to Kimble’s eight points in the period.

In the second quarter La Salle inched closer to Neumann-Goretti when Krmpotich’s put-back slam and 11 points got the Explorers’ mojo going, but Green’s perimeter play and three triples saw the Saints leading 32-29 at the break.

The Explorers knotted the game up at 36-36 with four-plus minutes to go in the third quarter, only to see Neumann-Goretti tear off 13 points compared to La Salle’s four heading into the fourth at 49-40.

La Salle bounced back in the fourth as it collectively improved its rebounding and second-chance opportunities. On one trip, the Explorers collected two rebounds before Shawn Witherspoon hit a trey to make it 55-50.

But Kimble and Co. did enough to hold off the Explorer resurgence as time ran out on La Salle.

With the win, the Saints punched their ticket to the PCL final against the Cahillites on Monday evening at 8:45.

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