St. Anthony Defeats St. Patrick
Coach Hurley guides his Friars to another title, in a 62-45 win.
by Cris Jones
The most hyped high school basketball game in years transpired last night in Piscataway, NJ. No. 1 vs No. 2. Both in the state of New Jersey, and the nation.
St. Patrick of Elizabeth took on the St. Anthony of Jersey City in the NJSIAA Non-Public, North B Final, on the home floor of the suddenly relevant Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Bob Hurley-led Friars, and Kevin Boyle’s Celtics have met on occassions before, but this time it was for all the Jersey tomatoes, and the mythical high school basketball national championship.
The Celtics of St. Patrick featured the 6-7, Kentucky-bound Michael Gilchrist and a slew of other talent. The Friars of St. Anthony boasted future collegiate standouts as well, in Rutgers-signee point guard Myles Mack, and the highly touted, uncommitted forward, Kyle Anderson. Though the budding stars were much discussed prior to the game, the other guys made themselves known on this evening.
Under Coach Hurley, St. Anthony’s hallmark has always been it’s lock down defense. And in the second half, the Friars put their superb defense on display, holding St. Patrick to 21.7 percent shooting from the field in the final 16 minutes.
But the final eight minutes decided the outcome of this game. The final period could be summed up in two words: utter domination. St. Anthony held the Celtics to just 5 points in the final period, while scoring 23 of their own. Third-year, St. Anthony forward, Jerome Frink grabbed some timely rebounds and converted some huge put backs in the final quarter that seemed to take the heart of the Celtics. Kyle Anderson put the finishing touches on his stat-sheet stuffing night in the fourth with an emphatic block on Michael Gilchrist. On this night, Anderson appeared to be the most skilled player on the court, not Gilchrist.
Prior to St. Patrick’s fourth quarter meltdown, the teams battled back and forth for three quarters.
St. Patrick, owners of the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today‘s Super 25, jumped out of the gates early as they won the tip. Celtics guard, and Western Kentucky-signee, Derrick Gordon scored immediately. Gordon’s quick bucket was foreshadowing moment in this contest as he scored more than half of the team’s points, with a game-high 26 on 10-19 shooting from the field.
Along with two early three balls from Chris Martin, the Celtics took control early with a 11-4 lead. But St. Anthony’s responded as they always do, making it 19-13 before the quarter ended. Friars’ guard, Myles Mack, appeared very comfortable on his future home court as he finished the quarter with 7 points.
The knock on Mack — naturally — is his size. The 5-9, 155-pound guard’s stature is unassuming, but his gritty play renders his height meaningless. Mack led the Friars with 19 points, and 5 steals. He will surely be beloved during his years at Rutgers University — a long-starved program — if he can perform the way he did last night.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s All-American Michael Gilchrist managed to only score one field goal in the first eight minutes, but no one could have imagined the night he was in for.
In a sloppy 2nd quarter, the teams only combined for 19 points, with St. Anthony scoring 10 of them. Gilchrist added 5 more points in the second frame, but they would be his last. Gilchrist finished with 7 points, none in the second half, and 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Through two quarters, the Celtics led 28-23.
The Friars opened up the third quarter with a 9-0 run, and the pro-St. Anthony’s crowd exploded. But this particular run was only a prelude to what the Friars would do in the fourth period. St. Patrick responded, and managed to take a one-point lead into the final frame, but it was all downhill from there.
As the arena once filled with over 8,000 basketball “experts” emptied, the St. Anthony student section rushed the floor, congratulating the Friars on yet another title. St. Patrick’s season ends with a record of 26-1, while the Friars remained perfect at 31-0. Barring a major slip up in New Jersey’s Tournament of Champions, St. Anthony will finish undefeated and ranked No. 1 throughout all high school polls.
The duo of Mack and Anderson (11 pts, 8 boards, 5 asst, 2 blocks), along with role players Lucious Jones, Frink and Jimmy Hall proved to be too much for a St. Patrick’s squad that was a heavy favorite prior to the contest.
But pre-game predictions do not matter in the end — that’s why they play the game.
St. Anthony will face Non-Public, South B champion, Cardinal McCarrick (South Amboy) on Saturday.