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The Carroll Times

The Carroll Times

Pats Catch Fire Late, Take Down Bonner In Round One

The Archbishop Carroll Varsity Boys Basketball Team got past some early struggles to move past Monsignor Bonner in the opening round of the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs
Ava Bannon
Sophomores Nasir Ralls and Luca Foster regroup after a play.

The Pats have been here before.

After Wednesday night’s 66-51 win over Bonner Prendergast in the first round of the PCL playoffs, the Pats are moving on to the league quarterfinals to face off with perennial contender and recent foe Neumann-Goretti.

Carroll fell to Neumann in this exact spot last season, following their first-round win over Father Judge. The eventual Philadelphia Catholic League Championship runner-up handled an overmatched Patriot club that fell to Saints by 25. 

Now, a much-changed Patriot club will head to South Philadelphia this Friday, one which is platooned with a new core of players and has a renewed sense of knowledge and pride in themselves. 

“We feel confident,” said sophomore forward Luca Foster. “We just got to keep working hard, be physical with each other, and get it done.”

Physicality was something this Carroll club struggled with in the early going of Wednesday’s game. A Bonner squad with a clear strength and size advantage exploited a much smaller Patriot team – holding the Pats to only 19 points in the first half and just eight in the second quarter.

“They game-plan for us,” said Patriots head coach Francis Bowe. “They knew that the last time we played them in the second half, they sagged on us. So, you know, nerves. Our dribble penetration was kind of gone. We settled. We tried to dribble through situations that we shouldn’t, so we made a couple of adjustments on offense to create gaps for our guys. The thing is, they really started screening for each other. We weren’t screening – especially on the offensive end. Defensively I was thrilled. We held them to 24 points in the first half.”

In the first period and into the second it appeared that every point would be worth a hundred, as buckets came few and far between – mirrored by an 11-10 (Carroll) score at the end of the first period. Both offenses struggled to find the hoop until Bonner was able to string together a run through the end of the first half and into the third quarter that saw the Friars take as much as a seven-point lead at one stoppage. 

As the once raucous East Gym fell quiet, the Pats began their run back into the game. Following a couple of Ian Williams-assisted threes from Nasir Ralls, Carroll was right back in the game and trailed by only one at the end of the third period. 

“Our intensity went up,” said Williams. “We started to run the floor a lot better, and we started getting everything we wanted.” 

‘Everything,’ could have been an understatement for the Pats, who ran away with the game in the fourth quarter. What started with a steady slashing of the rim by Foster and freshman forward Munir Greig turned into a full-on offensive barrage as Williams and Ralls let it fly from deep, sinking a couple of huge shots in the late going to extend the Carroll lead to as many as 20. 

With a fittingly poetic steal and slam by Greig to close things out with around only a minute remaining, the cheers rained down as the Pats took the win.

Nonetheless, with the win the Pats will move on to face their kryptonite in the aforementioned Saints of St. John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School. The Saints (11-2 PCL) hold the number two seed in the Catholic League playoffs and are looking to avenge a loss to Roman Catholic in the PCL championship last season. A win over the Saints would mean a trip to the Palestra for the league semi-finals and a bid at the championship. 

“The environment is going to be crazier (at Neumann),” said Bowe. “We can’t let our nerves get to us. We finally got the first one under our belt, so just come out collected and confident and maybe it can be a great outcome for us.”


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