RADNOR >> The question going into Wednesday night’s Philadelphia Catholic League playoff first-round game between Archbishop Carroll and La Salle was how well could the young Explorers hang with the Patriots.
It took about eight minutes of playing time to find out.
Carroll blanked the Explorers in the first quarter, then blazed to a 59-37 win that ended La Salle’s season and propelled the Patriots into a meeting with Neumann-Goretti Friday night.
AJ Hoggard had 15 points, 12 in the second half, as Carroll built a 12-point halftime lead then refused to look back.
“It’s nice to be that locked in defensively,” said Carroll head coach Paul Romanczuk, after the Patriots held La Salle scoreless in the first. “That’s what you need against a well-coached team like La Salle.”
Meanwhile, the Explorers never got completely on track — at least not until it was far too late to get back in the game.
“We missed some open shots in that first quarter, and it never got better,” said Explorers head coach Joe Dempsey. “We told our guys to be patient, and they were. But we were never really able to get back in the game.”
They were unable to get back because Hoggard and Khari Williams (14 points) got the Patriots in up-tempo mode in the second half. And the Explorers, drilled to stay patient, couldn’t keep up the increased pace.
Early on, Carroll tried to push the pace, only to run into a determined Explorers offense that was just not willing to maintain that tempo.
It bogged the Patriots down for a time. But after intermission Carroll just exploded.
And the Explorers had no answers.
“We had a rough stretch in the middle of this season,” Romanczuk said, “but I’m real happy with the way the guys hung in there and turned things around.
“We might be playing our best basketball of the season right now.”
As for the Explorers, their best days may lay ahead.
“You’re never happy finishing 10th,” Dempsey said of his team’s regular-season finish, “but we have a team of only two seniors, so we’re looking ahead to the future.
“We’re just in one of those down cycles right now.”
Which is not what you can say of the Patriots, who are hoping their hot play will carry over into the postseason.
“As I said, I think we’re playing our best basketball right now,” Romanczuk said. “And it couldn’t come at a better time.”
Archbishop Carroll 59, La Salle 37
La Salle 0 9 11 17 — 37
Archbishop Carroll 9 12 14 24 — 59
La Salle: Jarrod Stukes 6 3-3 15; Matt Paulus 2 2-2 8; Zach Crisler 2 2-2 7; Sean Simon 1 3-5 5; Jack Rothenberg 1 0-0 2; Allen Powell 0 0-0 0; Brett Werner 0 0-0 0; Matt McMahon 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 10-12 37.
Archbishop Carroll: Khari Williams 5 2-2 14; AJ Hoggard 5 7-7 17; Justin Anderson 5 0-0 11; Jesse McPherson 2 0-0 4; Colin Daly 3 0-0 9; Keyon Butler 1 0-0 2; Luke House 1 0-0 2; Devon Ferrero 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 9-9 59.
3-pointers: Paulus 2; Crisler; Daly 3; Williams; Anderson.