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The Carroll Times

The Carroll Times

Carroll stuns Judge, freshman star leads the way

Ava Bannon
Freshman forward Munir Greig lines up for a foul shot.

Freshman forward Munir Greig had been the epitome of the word “polarizing” for the latter half of the 2023-24 Archbishop Carroll varsity boys basketball season. 

After being named the number four player nationally in the class of 2027 prior to the campaign, Greig struggled mightily through the majority of his first high school season. The young forward grappled to compete with the size and strength of PCL big men and looked for bad shots to pull his way out, which failed. 

It wasn’t until recently when the star big man found his stride, and it quite possibly came at the most pivotal point of his team’s season. 

Greig led the Pats on the court and in the points column with 20 following his club’s 81-60 pummeling of the contending Father Judge. 

“The Catholic League is humbling,” said Patriots head coach Francis Bowe. “Those games in December are humbling, but the reason why he is still one of the best prospects in the nation for his age is because he took it all in, learned from it, and now is doing what we need him to do. That is why I would put my money on that kid any day over any kid in his class.”

The Catholic League was indeed humbling for Greig, who managed a mere seven points per game prior to his recent string of success. The freshman who at times looked disgruntled and out of touch with the game at one point seemed to be a lost cause, being benched in the middle of the Pats recent win over Conwell-Egan while slouching at the end of the Carroll bench. 

It’s been a long road for Greig. The freshman had been set up nicely prior to the school year and was ready to join one of the nation’s best programs in Imhotep Charter before issues arose that sent him packing to Carroll. 

“It was a lot man,” said Greig. “I was at Imhotep at the start of the year, but they told me some stuff so then I had to come join my brothers here. Then there was a lot more stuff towards the middle of the season that I really struggled with. Now we’re here, though. We’re getting ready to compete in this big tournament, getting ready to go to the Palestra and that is the end goal: to play at the Palestra this year.”

With the Palestra being the end goal of the season for Carroll, they certainly got one step closer to it Friday night. With the win over Father Judge, besides gaining one of their best wins of the season over a contending club, they have also set themselves up to take the jump out of the PCL playoff’s play-in-round. With a Judge loss to La Salle on Sunday, the Pats would be sitting pretty in the sixth seed and would forgo any first round matchup, instead hooking up with the third seed. 

The night’s win also sends the Pats into the playoffs with their best spurt of momentum of the season. 

“It’s just clicking you know,” said sophomore guard and captain Ian Williams. “Like I’ve said before, it’s gonna click now and it’s coming along – we’re getting it. So I think we just needed some experience and now it’s clicking so we’re not looking to stop any time soon.”

It was plain to see that Carroll came out with a vengeance and a new energy. In the early going of a lot of the Pats games this season, the team struggled to get on top. They’ve seen a lot of leads quickly dissipate as the other club began to set the game pace.

“We have gotten better, every game,” said Bowe. “There have been moments when we have struggled and we lost but that was ‘OK, we have to test ourselves.’ So we have been battle-tested all year long and now you’re kind of seeing the situation where its, like, ‘Are we going to take the next step?’ We have all the confidence and everything these guys can exude and they’re doing it, man. They’re playing for each other, sharing the ball and scoring in so many ways. We’re a tough out because when we take care of the ball and share it, it’s awesome.”

From the beginning of the first period Friday night, Carroll held the keys. The Pats took a quick 12-4 lead before Judge tightened the ends a bit at the end of the first period. 

In the second period, even as Judge kept the game close, Carroll always seemed to hold them at an arm’s distance. What really did it for the Pats, however, was an Ian Williams buzzer beater to head into halftime, just after Judge had tied the game for the first time. With a 26-24 lead headed into the break, it would be all Carroll from that point forward. 

Led by Grieg (20), Williams (10), sophomore guard Nasir Ralls (13), and sophomore forward Luca Foster (16) along with some nice assists and big turnovers from freshman guard Darrell Davis, the Pats nearly doubled their first half offensive output with 24 points in just the third quarter. Carroll would also maintain a 10-point lead over Judge for the majority of the third period before pulling away some more in the fourth period. 

It was in the fourth where Carroll had their best offensive output of the night with 31 points, extending their lead to 20 by the end of the game. It took just a couple big time three’s from Ralls to seal the deal as Carroll just could not miss in the second half. 

With the win now, Carroll will need to wait to learn who/when/where they will be in the first round (or second round) of the Catholic League playoffs. The Pats next destination is reliant on Sunday’s game between Father Judge and La Salle along with a myriad of other Catholic League games on Sunday that can decide seeding matchups. 

“For me it comes down to whether we are the six or the seven,” said Bowe.  “Let’s just play. These guys are young. They’re ready to go. You know I told them if we don’t have the six seed we are playing on the 14th and they’re like ‘if we have a bye then we have to wait how long?’ So I think if they wanted to, they could play tomorrow, but however it plays out, we’re going to be ready.”

The deal breaker will be the aforementioned game between Judge and La Salle, which will be 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon at La Salle. If Judge were to lose the game to La Salle, which is attempting to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, Carroll will gain the sixth seed (via the head-to-head tiebreaker acquired with the win Friday night) in the Catholic League and play the third seed in the second round. This would leave Carroll with only one game to win before advancing the league semi-finals at the Palestra. In this scenario, the Pats would most likely take on either Neumann-Goretti, or, more likely, Archbishop Wood in an away game.

Nonetheless, if Judge were to beat La Salle, they’d hold a 9-4 record and a one game lead over Carroll in the standings. This would keep Carroll in the 7th seed and force the Pats to play a play-in game against the league’s 10th and final seed. They would end up playing either Monsignor Bonner, La Salle, Cardinal O’Hara, or Devon Prep, with the most likely culprits being Bonner or Devon. 

With the win, Carroll finishes the regular season with a 15-7 record and an 8-5 mark in the Philadelphia Catholic League. As mentioned prior, the Pats next game is still TBD, though a first round matchup would warrant a home game in the East Gym on Wednesday night, while a second round matchup would have the Pats await their game on Friday night at a location to be decided.

“I could not be happier,” said Bowe. “Couldn’t be prouder and I’m loving every minute of this journey. Let’s keep it going.”

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