Catholic League Champions, Roman Catholic has Big Balls!

Big Balls!

Matt Griffin has ‘em…
Lynn Greer has ‘em…
Seth Lundy has ‘em…
Hakim Hart has ‘em…
Allen Betrand has ‘em…
Lou Wild has ‘em…
John Kelly has ‘em…

That’s why they are Champions of Philadelphia’s Catholic League!

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Bonner-Prendie has one of the most imposing frontlines on the eastern seaboard. Senior, Ajiri Johnson is a long, lean supremely athletic 6’8’ power forward. Possessing excellent timing and patience on defense, he’s a shot -blocker extraordinaire who attacks the rim with force on offense.

Junior, Tariq Ingraham, also standing 6’8”, comes in at around 250 lbs. A problem around the basket, he possesses very soft hands and a nice touch around the basket.

Both will play Division 1 basketball. Ajiri for Kevin Baggett and newly crowned MAAC regular season champion Rider University Broncs. Ingraham will play for a D1 program to be determined at a later date.

Tonight… these two teamed with, Catholic League MVP, Isaiah Wong to lead Bonner-Prendie into battle against the Cahillites in the historic Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

Yes… District playoff and State playoff games remain for both teams. Indeed, both may be playing for several more weeks…

To those unfamiliar with Philadelphia scholastic basketball the following will not make much sense: The season, for both teams, ended tonight!

Even if Bonner-Prendie wins a State Championship, it will not erase the pain they endured tonight. They know this is true, Roman knows this is true, Philly hoop heads know this is true…

The only thing that can makeup for the loss tonight is a win on the Palestra floor 365 days from now…

During a press conference following a hard fought semi-final victory over Archbishop Carroll, Bonner-Prendie Head Coach Jack Concannon was asked “which means more the Catholic League or the State Championship?”

To which he responded, “If I’m gonna be honest, the Catholic League…”

If you’re from these parts, you knew that’s what he would say… If you’re from somewhere else it just doesn’t make sense…

Why would it mean more the be the best of a group of 14 Catholic schools than to be State Champion?

You really can’t explain it… It just does!

The intensity… The competitiveness… The rivalry… It’s unmatched…

Shit… Truth be told it reminds me of what the Big 5 used to be before Villanova relegated the rest of Philly’s D1 programs to JV status.

It was a beautiful ugly ass game… It was filled with lots of mistakes and extended periods of poorly conceived basketball… Frequent turnovers… Too many quick shots… Too many fouls…

Roman senior, John Kelly a tough, hard-nosed 6’4” right tackle masquerading as a power forward was saddled with 3 fouls before he could break a sweat. Before we reached the midway point of the first quarter, Kelly effectively became another member of Griffins coaching staff as he took a permanent seat on the bench.

Uh Oh!

You could feel the anxiety… How are they gonna box out Ingraham and Johnson? Who’s gonna wrestle Ingraham on the box?

There were other, seemingly serious, issues…

Seth Lundy, a supremely gifted 6’6” small forward with a beautiful shooting stroke did not touch the ball over the first 7 minutes of the game… He literally did NOT touch the ball… No… seriously… Lundy did NOT touch the ball…

Predicatably…

Bonner jumped out to 5-0 lead to start the game… They extended it to 11-3 with 2:30 left in the first quarter…

Roman looked overmatched… Bonner appeared to be too big and too athletic up front…

But…

Roman has BIG BALLS!

By the end of the first quarter, Roman was leading 12-11…

From there… We had a classic Catholic League slug fest, the teams repeatedly traded body blows, upper cuts and left hooks… Both teams have incredibly strong chins… They kept eating those blows and coming forward…

Everyone of the 9,000 or so jammed into the grand old arena knew the game would come down to the last possession…

And so… With the score tied 49-49 with just over a 1:20 to go… Roman Catholic had possession…

Ten times out of ten times, coaches call timeout in this situation and try to micromanage what they perceive as the most important possession.

Matt Griffin, however, has BIG BALLS!

He decided to leave the fate of the game in the hands of his 15 year old point guard. In terms of basketball skills, Lynn Greer is a prodigy. Young Mr. Greer is endowed with exceptional ball-handling and shooting abilities. There can be no denying his physical gifts… He very, very talented…

But… his basketball judgement is still evolving… He exhibits a willingness to take questionable shots at questionable times…

This propensity begged the question: What would he do in crunch time?

All tied up in the biggest game of his nascent coaching career, Matt Griffin left it all up to Greer…

If Roman was to win in regulation, Greer would have to make the play…

Not the gritty, tough, supremely confident Towson commit Allen Betrand… Not the Top 100 high major prospect Seth Lundy… Not the best long range shooter in the area, Hakim Hart…

Matt Griffin left the game in the hands of Lynn Greer, III…

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Lynn Greer III and Lynn Greer, Jr.

Greer dribbled across half court with about 1:20 left in the game… He passed the ball to Lou Wild who cradled the ball while time lapsed 1:10… 1:07… 1:03…

Eventually Tariq Ingraham lumbered out toward Wild… Wild quickly and easily maneuvered around Ingraham and passed to Betrand…

Recognizing the obvious mismatch, Betrand quickly gave the ball back to Wild…

Wild dribbled out a few more seconds… 0:54… 0:51… 0:47…

With 0:47 left on the clock Wild passed to Greer…

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Lynn Greer, III addresses the media following win

In the middle of the floor, 9,000 spectators focused on his every move… The Catholic League MVP staring him down… Greer grabbed the game by the throat…

Greer has BIG BALLS!

Confidently, he had the ball on a string… He danced around the middle of the court… In and out.. crossover… strong move toward the key with a belt high left hand pat…

He probed… He tested… He teased… He wanted to see how the defense would react…

He backed all the way up and began the process over again…

Behind the back… right to left… in and out… strong move down the right side…

He probed… He tested… He teased… He wanted to see how the defense would react…

0:28… 0:23… 0:19…

Now he’s dancing at midcourt… Wong intently staring him down… He dribbles toward the middle of the court and then back over toward the right…

0:13… 0:09… 0:06…

Finally… he attacks… he blows by Wong with a blazing first step… Before you can blink he’s in the lane… defense collapses…

He finds Hakim Hart with a perfect touch pass… The ball gently touches Hart’s hand for a millisecond and he gently lays the ball off the backboard…

Perfect play…

0:01.6 left on the clock…

Bonner makes an unsuccessful attempt to throw a full court pass, catch and shoot…

Game over…

For the 3rd time in 4 years, the Cahillites are Philadelphia Catholic League Champions…

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Catholic League Champions, Roman Catholic Cahillites

The season is over…

Still have a few District and State playoff games to get through, but we all know…

The season is over…

See you in 365 days… I’ll be under the basket…

 

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