By Phil Anastasia
Down 12-4 after one quarter, Eastern turned to its defense.
Without its leading scorer for much of the fourth quarter, the Vikings relied on their depth.
Eastern sophomore Maliq Sanders (pictured) scored seven of his team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter as the visiting Vikings rallied for a 42-38 victory over Camden Catholic in an Olympic Conference inter-division boys' basketball clash of Top 10 teams on Saturday.
Seniors Alex Barr and Tom Flacco made big plays down the stretch and junior Justin Fendrick converted a key free throw as Eastern (4-0), the No. 9 team in The Inquirer Top 10, scored the game's final eight points.
The Vikings rallied despite the absence of senior center Matt Klinewski, a Lafayette recruit who missed much of the fourth quarter, including the final two minutes and 19 seconds, because of fouls.
"This is a big confidence-builder for us," said Barr, whose driving layup with 49 seconds to play gave the Vikings their first lead since early in the fourth quarter at 39-38.
The 6-foot-3 Sanders was 7-for-8 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. He also hit a pair of theee-point jumpers in the second quarter, and generated five rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
"I knew I had to step up for my team," Sanders said.
Junior swingman Courtney Cubbage collected 14 rebounds and eight points and senior forward Jake Johnson led all scorers with 15 for No. 7 Camden Catholic (3-2).
Camden Catholic played without two starters as junior center Demola Onifade has been lost for the season with a shoulder injury and senior guard Rob Brosh was sidelined with a chest injury.
The 6-foot-9 Onifade, a Nigerian citizen who lives in the Nazareth House on Camden Catholic's campus, said before the game that he will undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks. He was injured on Monday.
"Our guys gave it all they had," Camden Catholic coach Matt Crawford said. "I was so proud of their effort."
Camden Catholic jumped to a 12-4 lead after the first quarter as Cubbage grabbed seven rebounds. But Eastern picked up its man-to-man defense, trapping on the perimeter, forcing turnovers and holding the Irish to 26 points over the final 24 minutes.
"Our defense turned the game around for us," Eastern coach Joe Murphy said.
Johnson's three-pointer gave the Irish a 38-34 lead with 1:39 on the clock. But Flacco hit a three-pointer at the 1:16 mark, then Barr went coast-to-coast and banked in a layup to give the Vikings the lead.
Fendrick's free throw at 0:07 made it 40-38, and Sanders lifted a steal and added two more free throws at the 0:04 mark.
"They were surrounding Matt so it was nice to see the other guys step up," Murphy said. "Anytime you can come in here and get a win, it means a lot."
Eastern 4 15 8 15 -- 42
Camden Catholic 12 5 10 11 -- 38
E: Matt Klinewski 7, Alex Barr 11, Tom Flacco 7, John Scalindro 3, Maliq Sanders 13, Justin Fendrick 1.
CC: Brendan Crawford 4, Tom Organ 4, Jimmy Robinson 7, Courtney Cubbage 8, Jake Johnson 15.
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