Edwards, Okoro rally Eastern to win over Paul VI

It was a quiet first half for Troy Edwards.

It was a silent first half for Onye Okoro.

But the two juniors made a major impact in the final 16 points, combining for 27 points to lead Eastern to a 60-49 victory over Paul VI in an Olympic Conference interdivision clash of Top 25 boys' basketball teams on Saturday.

Scoreless in the first half, Edwards generated 14 points with a pair of three-pointers and two important free throws with 1 minute, 21 seconds to play for the visiting Vikings on a snowy afternoon.

Still nursing a sore leg that caused him to miss the previous three games, Okoro never left the bench in the first half. But he collected 13 points and six rebounds as the Vikings rallied from an eight-point defict at the break.

"He turned the game around with his energy," Paul VI coach Tony Devlin said of the 6-foot-7 Okoro.

Junior lead guard Jesse Barbera added 15 points with six assists as Eastern (5-3), the No. 11 team in the Inquirer Top 25, won for the fifth time in six games.

Senior guard Keenan Wise scored 22 for No. 24 Paul VI (5-4), which had won five in a row.

"I was really, really proud of our kids," Eastern coach Kevin Crawford said. "This was our best win of the season. Not because Paul VI is the best team that we've played but because this was a game we really had to grind and find a way to win.

"That's what basketball is all about. When it might not be your best day, you have to fight and claw and find a way to win and that's what we did against a good team."

Edwards, a 6-foot-1 guard, drove for a pair of baskets as Eastern opened the second half on an 8-0 run. He added a deep three-pointer later in the quarter as the Vikings outscored the Eagles, 19-7, to seize a 39-35 lead.

"We just came out with a different mind-set," in the second half, Edwards said. "I was hesitant in the first half, second-guessing myself. I just played my game in the second half."

Okoro scored six with three rebounds and a block in the third quarter. He added seven, including a traditional three-point play, with three more boards, another block, and a sharp assist for a layup by senior Darren Gibson as Eastern pulled away in the fourth quarter.

"I've been on the bench, cheering my teammates," Okoro said. "It's great to cheer your teammates, but I like being out there, helping the team in any way I can."

Eastern 11 9 19 21 - 60

Paul VI 13 15 7 14 - 49

E: Darren Gibson 5, Onye Okoro 13, Troy Edwards 14, Jesse Barbera 15, Jacob O'Connell 7, Ryan Ems 4, Nick Catrino 2.

PVI: Justin Ryder 8, Keenan Wise 22, John Calvello 4, Tyshon Judge 9, Andrew Zuccarelli 4, Hartnell Haye 2.