Neumann-Goretti benefits from talented young guards

Trust is earned, and when you're an underclassman playing with two of the nation's best players, it doesn't come easy.

It appears, however, that Christian Ings and Dymir Montague - sophomore and junior guards, respectively, for Neumann-Goretti - have earned their stripes.

As a result, the Saints, led by senior McDonald's all-American and Kentucky-bound guard Quade Green and Villanova-bound senior forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, are as dangerous as ever.

Neumann-Goretti's 76-47 demolition of Del-Val in a PIAA Class 3A semifinal Tuesday at the Liacouras Center saw Ings and Montague combine for 24 points off the bench. Marcus Littles (10 points) and Noah Warren (nine) were also key contributors.

"All of us as a team stepped up because we knew Quade needed us," said Montague, who scored 10 points. "He was asking for us all season, and we finally came through when it counted."

Montague added: "When [Quade] moves the ball to us, it all moves fluidly because all the [defensive] eyes are on him."

Expect even more peepers on Green on Thursday in Hershey, when the Saints compete for a fourth consecutive PIAA title, this time against District 7's Lincoln Park, which beat Cardinal Wuerl, 54-46, on Monday.

Aside from his phenomenal footwork and the offensive sophistication of his game, part of Green's skill set - even as an underclassman himself - has included the ability to efficiently amass points.

For example, earlier this season, when the Saints knocked off Imhotep - currently the No. 6 team in the nation per USA Today - Green exploded for 37 points on 11-of-19 shooting and a 4-of-8 mark from three.

That type of ability, however, can also lead to teammates who defer too often.

A few weeks ago, Cosby-Roundtree said he wanted his younger teammates to realize they were as important to success as himself and Green.

After the team's 69-56 quarterfinal victory against Lancaster Mennonite, Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said he noticed a few guys playing with more confidence.

"Definitely feel more confident," said Ings, who finished with 14 points Tuesday. "We've had a lot of practices where Quade is trusting us more and more, and he's giving us confidence, and he told us to just go out there and play and have fun."

At times this season, Ings has shown a deft touch from deep, the ability to create his own shot with ease, and superior spring with which to attack the rim.

He's listed by the team as 5-foot-10, but some outside the program argue he's at least 6-foot.

It matters little, however. Infinitely more important are his undeniable skills, humility, and willingness to compete, work, and learn from those around him.

"It helps me a lot," Ings said. "Going after Quade every day in practice, you know, he's the only Kentucky recruit in [the gym], and I'm taking him on every day. So when it's my turn to lead the team, I can. So I go at him; he comes at me. I know I'm not going to play against anybody as good as Quade, so I've got to play him harder and harder, which makes me better and better."

Ryan's valiant Raiders

Although Archbishop Ryan fell to Lonnie Walker and Reading on Tuesday night, the performances of seniors Fred Taylor and Izaiah Brockington deserve special consideration.

Taylor, a West Chester recruit, blocked seven shots, grabbed 10 rebounds (six offensive), and was a key reason the Raiders jumped out to an 11-point advantage in the second quarter.

In fact, Taylor had five blocks (two were of Walker) with 4 minutes, 50 seconds left in the second frame.

While Taylor buttressed the defense, Brockington supplied the first-half offense.

The senior New Jersey Tech recruit had 14 points by intermission, all while guarding - and being guarded by - Walker, a 6-foot-6 McDonald's all-American with frightening athletic ability.

After Walker exploded for 15 of his 35 points in the second quarter, Brockington, who was also forced to bring the ball up against Red Knights pressure, appeared spent in the second half.

As evidence, his third-quarter dunk attempt was thwarted by the front rim after he drove the lane and drew a light reach-in foul that occurred before his leap.

The 6-foot-4 lefty typically dunks with ease, which he did on a fastbreak in the first half.

Brockington finished with 16 points for the Raiders, a feisty but out-manned team that played only six players.