By Phil Anastasia
When one of his teammates went down with the injury, Uumhad Collier could sympathize.
He also could capitialize.
Thrust into the starting lineup for the first time in 22 months, Collier set career-highs with seven three-pointers and 25 points in leading Holy Spirit to a 64-57 victory over Paulsboro on Saturday in a clash of Top 10 teams at the American Basketball Classic at St. Augustine Prep.
"I knew I had to step up," Collier, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, said after sparking the Spartans past the Red Raiders in a fast-paced, physical battle that served as the feature event of the five-game showcase.
Junior forward Jordan Taylor added 19 points with 10 rebounds and senior forward Junior Saintel generated seven points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three assists for Holy Spirit (7-1), the No. 3 team in The Inquirer Top 10.
Junior forward Saleem Little scored 17 points with nine rebounds and senior guard Keenan Williams added 14 points with five assists for No. 7 Paulsboro (7-1).
"There are no moral victories but that was as good as we've played in a long time," Paulsboro coach Sean Collins said. "We didn't execute at the end but from an effort standpoint, I was very happy with the way we played."
Collier's long-range shooting was the difference in the game. He made four three-pointers in the fourth quarter. At one point, he scored 14 straight points for his team, giving the Spartans leads of 47-44, 50-48, 53-48, 55-50 and 58-55.
"And that was against three different defenses," said Collins, shaking his head.
Collier was making first start since the end of his sophomore season because junior guard John Middleton, Holy Spirit's second-leading scorer, was out with a foot injury.
"We talked before the game about somebody stepping up," Holy Spirit coach Jamie Gillespie said. "Gosh, he (Collier) couldn't have played any better. He made key shot after key shot."
Collier could understand Middleton's frustration. A starter as a sophomore for one of the better teams in South Jersey, Collier missed all of last season after suffering a torn Achillies tendon in his right leg in a pre-season practice.
"That's such a tough injury to come back from," Gillespie said. "People don't realize how hard it is to miss a whole year. It's great to see him come back and play like this."
Collier said his recovery from the injury has been slow but steady.
"I'm starting to feel a lot better," Collier said. "It's been over a year since I was injured. I feel like I'm 110 percent."
Paulsboro 15 11 14 17 -- 57
Holy Spirit 14 10 17 23 -- 64
P: Brandon Hamilton 9, Cassius Carter 8, Keenan Williams 14, Saleem Little 17, Theo Holloway 5, DeShaun Burgess 4.
HS: Leon Daniels 11, Uumhad Collier 25, Junior Saintel 7, Jordan Taylor 19, John Hogans 2.
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