SPRINGFIELD >> Everyone knew what was going to happen when La Salle scored 10 points Friday night – the entire half of the gym filled with silent students dressed in costumes would explode and bring energy for the Explorers for the rest of the game.
Archbishop Carroll was ready.
When La Salle’s Sam Brown hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 10, the students erupted and Carroll coach Francis Bowe calmly called a timeout.
Moses Hipps hit back-to-back three-pointers out of the timeout and Dean Coleman-Newsome hit a third for nine straight Patriots points. Archbishop Carroll led by eight points at the end of the first quarter and their advantage didn’t drop below eight until the final minute of a 72-66 Philadelphia Catholic League win at La Salle College High School.
“We knew the crowd was going to be a big factor,” Hipps, who hit three three-pointers and was fouled shooting another during a 12-point first quarter, said. “It’s not about silencing the crowd. It’s just bringing my team together when we feel like we need it. You don’t want that momentum to carry when they go on a run because of the energy in the building. I feel like we do a great job of playing away games, especially when the crowd is a big factor.”
“(The 9-0 run) was huge,” Coleman-Newsome added. “It just shows the toughness that we built this year. We had our ups and downs and I think that’s great because we learned how to fight through adversity. That’s been a big part of our season.”
Coleman-Newsome scored nine points in the second quarter to help Carroll (5-7 PCL) build a 41-25 halftime lead.
The Patriots advantage peaked at 22 points, 51-29, halfway through the third quarter. That’s when La Salle (7-5 PCL) started its comeback attempt.
Horace Simmons and Nix Varano had back-to-back three-point plays to generate some momentum and get the deficit to 16, 51-35, but Hipps responded with a three of his own to get the difference back to 19. At the end of the third quarter, Carroll led by 17, 57-40.
The Explorers opened the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run to get within eight, 59-51,with three minutes to play.
That’s when Coleman-Newsome and Hipps shut the door. Coleman-Newsome went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line and made a layup while Hipps was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final 2:51 to maintain a comfortable lead until the final whistle, 72-66.
“I’m just confident whenever I go to the line,” Hipps said. “I feel like I’m going to make it every time. In practice, I shoot the ball all the time. It’s nothing, just stepping up for my team and hitting the free throws and wanting the ball in the clutch.”
“Confidence,” Coleman-Newsome added about the fourth-quarter mentality. “We knew we had it. Even though they were scoring, we knew in our hearts that we’ve been preparing for these moments. We work on free throws every practice. Just knock it down and let’s go home.”
“There’s no other better guys we want at the line than those two,” Bowe said. “They just proved that we might know a little bit about basketball, putting those guys at the foul line. But they made it, they’re tough kids. On a night like this, what an amazing crowd, that was awesome.”
The win, combined with a Bonner-Prendergast loss to Devon Prep, clinches Carroll a spot in the 10-team PCL playoffs.
“The PCL is one of the hardest leagues in the country in my opinion,” Hipps said. “Just to be able to have a chance to compete for the Palestra, I think we’re ready for it. We’re hungry. We’re coming out hungry. Right now, I think teams should be ready for us. We’re coming with that motor and every game we want to go at teams.”
“If you asked me a couple weeks ago I might’ve been doubting if we were going,” Coleman-Newsome said, referring to Carroll’s 1-4 start to PCL play. “I just appreciate everybody that stayed with me and the confidence of our coaches and the love that we have.”
Hipps led the Patriots with a game-high 26 points. Coleman-Newsome added 19 points and nine rebounds while Shawnn Smith chipped in 13 points.
Brown led La Salle with 20 points. Varano and Simmons each added 18. The trio combined for 19 points in the Explorers 24-10 run to get within eight, 61-53, with 1:55 left in the game.
La Salle ends the regular season with Archbishop Ryan (8-4) Sunday while Carroll faces Roman Catholic (11-1).
Archbishop Carroll 72, La Salle 66
Archbishop Carroll 22 19 16 15 – 72
La Salle 14 11 15 26 – 66
AC: Hipps 6 9-9 26, Smith 4 4-8 13, Coleman-Newsome 7 2-3 19, Rogers 1 1-2 4, West 1 0-0 3, Monastero 1 0-0 3, Ivery 2 0-1 4. Total 22 16-23 72.
LS: Brown 8 3-4 20, Williams 2 0-0 4, Varano 7 3-3 18, Seiberlich 0 0-0 0, Simmons 8 1-1 18, Jennings 0 0-0 0, Bryant 0 0-0 0, Sorge 2 0-1 6. Total 27 7-9 66.
3-point goals: AC: Hipps 5, Smith, Coleman-Newsome 3, Rogers, West, Monastero. LS: Brown, Varano, Simmons, Sorge 2.