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The Carroll Times

The Carroll Times

Pats clinch state championship berth by defeating Scranton Prep, 66-56

Michael Livingston
It was all quiet before the Pats got the win they needed to go to the state championship.

For the first time since 2013, the Archbishop Carroll Varsity Boys Varsity Basketball team is heading to the PIAA state championship Game.

With Monday night’s 66-56 win over Scranton Prep in the semifinals round, the Patriots are championship-bound for the first time in over a decade. 

“It just seems like the moment is never too big for them, as young as they are,” said head coach Francis Bowe. 

Time and time again the ‘young’ Carroll team has gotten to prove that mantra of a moment ‘never being too big for them,’ taking down some of the state’s best clubs in huge spots when it seemed all too likely they’d instead be packing it up and heading home. 

Even after a heartbreaking loss to Neumann-Goretti in the PCL quarterfinals, the club began to run through state playoff action. Despite tough opponents, the young Carroll team always appears calm, cool, and collected – something many young squads struggle with in the regular season, let alone state playoff play. 

These general rules didn’t change one bit for the Pats in Bethlehem on Monday night. 

Going up against a Cinderella story club in Scranton Prep, which ran through their early state playoff opponents before taking down the class 4A favorite in Neumann-Goretti on Friday night to advance to the semifinals, Carroll came out hot and gave themselves a comfortable lead early on, something the club struggled with in its previous matchups against Allentown Central Catholic and Carver E&S.

In the early going of the first quarter, Carroll took a quick 11-3 lead before a Scranton timeout flipped the script. The Cavaliers came roaring back to finish the first quarter on a 13-3 run, seeing Carroll trail 16-13 heading into the second quarter. 

Nonetheless, as the second quarter began, it was freshman forward Munir Greig who took charge and started making his mark on the game. Greig, who had been a key factor in the Pats playoff run to this point, forced multiple big-time turnovers and helped to convert them into buckets on the other end, which brought the game to a tie at halftime. 

“That felt great,” said Greig. “That was obviously a huge win for us. I loved the intensity we had today and we came out strong. My teammates trusted me a lot and I was able to get downhill on some plays and make some things happen in the paint.”

In the second half, Carroll was able to take control of the game. The Pats began to maintain a slight lead over Scranton in the third period behind the joint efforts of Greig and sophomore captain Ian Williams. 

The two made for a deadly duo as Williams continuously found Greig in the lane and on the perimeter for big shots while also bringing in a couple of huge rebounds and converting them for buckets in the paint. 

“That kid is special man,” said Williams on Greig. “We go as far as Mu goes; I tell him that every day. So him keeping his head, it helps us go. That’s going to lead into the next game and into the rest of his career, wherever he goes.”

Even as the game narrowed at the forefront of the fourth quarter, it was the Pats who never seemed out of whack, regrouping through an earlier period timeout.

One guy who certainly regrouped through that timeout was sophomore forward Drew Corrao. He had grappled with the Scranton defense to that point in the game and cost his team a few big buckets along with some fouls. 

“It’s like this guy right here, man,” said Bowe as he pulled aside Corrao outside of the team locker room postgame. “It’s all about resiliency. I yelled at him, cursed at him, put him in the dog house, re-put him back in the dog house, and then in the fourth quarter he is walling up their big guy, and taking a couple of possessions away. It is stuff like that. It’s what these guys do, and I couldn’t be prouder. I really couldn’t. It doesn’t show on the stat board, but he was just as important in that fourth quarter to slow down their big fella and get us the possessions we needed. It’s all about resiliency, man. We’re resilient.”

Corrao didn’t even record a point in the game but did pull down five rebounds and swat a block.  Just as Bowe said, ‘It doesn’t show on the stat board, but he is important.’

“I appreciate it,” said a humble Corrao. “I get coached really hard, and I take it pretty well. Sometimes it is hard for me to come back from, but I do everything I can to push through and change my mindset.”

After a final offensive run which was ignited by Corrao’s poise on the other end of the court, the Pats had finally pulled out to a 10-point lead with about one minute to go and dribbled the ball out as it became clear that their next stop would indeed be Hershey, Pennsylvania. 

With the win, the Pats have one game left. They will take on Lincoln Park High School from Berks County on Thursday night for an 8  p.m. tip-off at the Giant Center in Hershey.

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    TonyMar 19, 2024 at 11:46 am

    Outstanding coverage of the game. You captured the essence and excitement of the game.