Wildcats head to South Jersey non-public semifinals with 87-51 win
St. Joseph’s Jahmeer Cartagena heads for the basket early in the Wildcats’ playoff win over Holy Cross last week. (THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)
BUENA—St. The Joseph Academy men’s basketball team moved closer to its goal of a South Jersey Non-Public B Championship last week, putting in a dominating performance in an 87-51 win over Holy Cross Prep.
The Wildcats were in control from start to finish in the quarterfinal game at Buena Regional High School, never trailing in the lopsided victory.
“That’s what we’re capable of when we execute and play the way we’re supposed to,” ecstatic coach Paul Rodio said after the game.
The Wildcats have often frustrated their coach this season, as unruly play has led to mistakes that cost St. Joe a few potential wins.
With a week to prepare for last week’s game, the Wildcats looked focused on both ends of the court and were able to limit the mistakes that have plagued them this season.
“I don’t care what anyone says, it’s been a crazy year for us. We got hurt, but every time we faced adversity, these kids fought back,” Rodio said.
St. Joe bombarded Holy Cross early last week, sprinting for loose balls, heading for the basket, grabbing rebounds and hitting long jumpers on the way to a 35-4 first-quarter lead .
Holy Cross coach John Valore was visibly frustrated on the Lancers bench and used a pair of timeouts in the first four minutes of the game in an effort to stop St. Joe’s hot streak.
“That’s what we’re capable of, playing like that against a good team. I give a lot of credit to our elders, kids like Ja’son [Prevard]who played an amazing game tonight,” Rodio said.
Prevard lost three assists on a triple-double, finishing the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Ten of those points came in the first quarter, when Arnaldo Rodriguez added 11 of his 20 points to lead St. Joe’s first inning.
Holy Cross started to regroup early in the second quarter and the Lancers had a few shots to make the game interesting before St. Joe finished on a 7-2 run to take a 58-28 lead at halftime. time.
Senior Jahmeer Cartagena made three 3-pointers in the quarter for the Wildcats.
“Guys like Jahmeer, Majid [Abdur-Rahim], seniors, Jahqir Haley gave us good minutes. These guys really stepped up today,” Rodio said.
The Wildcats slowed play early in the third quarter, as Prevard dribbled nearly three minutes behind while Holy Cross remained deep in his zone defense. This decision frustrated fans of both teams who wanted to see more action.
“I don’t know why he [Valore] I just made ’em sit down and not get up [to defend Prevard, which would have forced St. Joe into more action]. I think he thought we were going to shoot or try to drive, but we just stayed disciplined. I mean, we had the lead, why rush anything? Eventually they came out,” Rodio said.
The back-and-forth strategy had little impact on the outcome of the game, as Rodriguez and Jared Demara hit 3-pointers to go along with baskets from Prevard and Devon Theophile to help the Wildcats extend their lead to 72-37 before the game. fourth trimester.
In the final period, St. Joe slowed play as Rodio emptied the bench, allowing Abdur-Rahim to hit a 3-pointer, Ian Harvey Williams to score four and Sean Palmer to add five.
“I think if they [Holy Cross] had struck a few blows early [in the game] it certainly would have been different, but we did everything we wanted to do. We went towards more zone pressure, which is what we have been most successful with this season, and it has worked well. i don’t think he [Valore] expected it and it took away half of their playbook. And because we had a week to train, we worked an hour, an hour and a half a day to attack the zone. It showed tonight because we managed to break them down and score. In the past, we’ve had a lot of one pass and then one shot. Tonight we were five assists, six assists and look how much better we were,” Rodio said.
The win sent St. Joseph to the semifinals, where the Wildcats hosted Ranney on March 7 in a game that ended too late for that edition. The winner of this game will face either Trenton Catholic or Holy Spirit in the South Jersey Non-Public B Championship Game on March 9 at 5 p.m. at Lenape High School.
“I’m excited. I have another week with these guys and hopefully we can keep clicking. We’re 32 minutes from a league game. I hope our kids respond and believe and be the ones whose people are talking,” Rodio said.