Saintil, Roselle Catholic escape
Dave Boff wanted to talk about how his squad rallied in the second half with defense, rebounding and hustle plays, but first the Roselle Catholic head coach needed to make an assist.
After the Lions turned in a tepid first half on the boards and in the overall scrap department, assistant coach John Giraldo lit into the troops pretty hard about some disappointing efforts he'd witnessed. So if there were any particular words that inspired Roselle Catholic to rally in the second half from an eight-point deficit, Boff wanted to make sure props were dispensed accurately.
"I've got to give credit where credit is due," Boff said. "Coach Giraldo jumped in at halftime and really put the onus on a couple guys that weren't playing as hard as they needed to play. He laid that on the table to them and they responded."
Junior guard Hakim Saintil, a transfer last summer from St. Patrick, scored 16 of his career-high 26 points in the second half against his former squad, and team rebounding and defense improved greatly as Roselle Catholic posted a 49-46 upset Saturday night at the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless Classic at the Dunn Center.
Stony Brook-bound Jameel Warney collected eight points and 14 rebounds and played perhaps his defense this season and Wesley Cherry sparked the comeback with two hard-nosed putbacks at the start of the second half. They helped the Lions (9-6) erase an eight-point deficit and avenge a five-point loss earlier this month to St. Patrick (8-6), No. 12 in the MSG Varsity Top 15.
"Wes came out and had a couple putbacks early in the second half and Jameel, even though he wasn’t getting his touches, had one of the bet games he's ever played," Boff said. "Defensively, on the glass, help side, all those different things. All those little things that no one ever really sees."
There was an assortment of those plays for Roselle Catholic after the break, like better screens and boxouts, a third-quarter charge taken by Jahaad Harris and a dive to the floor by Saintil for a loose ball in the final seconds off a missed St. Patrick jumper with Roselle Catholic in front, 48-46.
"They owned the boards in the first half, but then we had to wake up in the second half and take control of the boards," Saintil said. "All five of us hit the glass in the second half. We had to be strong with the ball, we had to rebound, we had to get every loose ball. We had to pick it up."
Wes Cherry, headed for East Stroudsburg, began the lifting with two those two tough putbacks to help launch a 14-1 third quarter for a 35-31 lead. St. Patrick was just 1 of 9 from the floor and committed five turnovers while Roselle Catholic sank 4 of 13 and was turnover free that period.
"They beat us last time pretty bad," Cherry said. "I thought someone had to start it, so I figured I would be me.
"This its everything right now," he said. "It starts the rest of the season. We've got to put together a streak and hopefully win the counties and states."
St. Patrick battled back in the fourth quarter behind junior forward Jared Nickens, who buried three 3-pointers in the first 5:13 to open a 46-43 advantage. Nickens finished with a team-high 17 points and fellow junior DeAndre Bembry scored 10 for St. Patrick, almost 11 points below his average.
"In the last game Bembry got 24 and Nickens got 20 (21) or something," Boff said. "This game we challenged the kids. Keep those guys down in the low teens and you have a real good chance to win the basketball game. They came out and they did an unbelievable job. I'm proud of them."
Harris sank one of two free throws with 2:21 remaining and Saintil followed with two 12 seconds later to tie the game at 46-46. St. Patrick missed the front end of two straight one-on-one opportunities and Saintil opened a 48-46 lead on a pull-up jumper with 48 seconds remaining.
Mike Kinney covers boys basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS