Amid his screaming classmates, amped-up teammates and overall boisterous atmosphere, Archbishop Carroll senior Khari Williams found an uncanny peace during Senior Night against visiting rival Bonner-Prendergast.
How then, on his birthday no less, was Williams so relaxed?
"It was something else," he said, shaking his head. "I don't know. I was just in a zone, man! I don't know."
As he spoke, the calm he played with was gone, replaced by an excitement that rocked his body side to side and made his words gush with gusto.
The Patriots (15-7, 7-6) punished the Friars, 73-50, in a Catholic League contest they led from start to finish.
"I'm so glad," said Willians, smiling, rocking. "This is my best birthday! I don't need presents, I don't need anything. This win; this is all I want!"
Thirteen of his game-high 16 points came in the first half, with several of his jumpers hitting nothing but net.
"Usually if I want to play well I just think attack," Williams said. "But this game, [despite] this intensity, my whole body was just relaxed. Every time I caught the ball it almost felt like I was in the gym alone. I took a breath and shot, and each time it just hit bottom. Kept staying relaxed, and it kept falling, and I looked at my hands, and I didn't know what was going on!"
He finished 6 of 9 from the field and 4 of 5 behind the three-point line.
Fellow seniors Colin Daly and Jesse McPherson added 12 and 10 points, respectively. McPherson also added seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Perhaps the most complete game of the night, however, belonged to freshman AJ Hoggard, who finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and five assists for a Carroll squad that had struggled in recent weeks.
"I thought he did a great job of valuing the basketball," said coach Paul Romanczuk. "I thought he rebounded well for us. I know he doesn't physically look like a freshman, so people maybe expect a lot from him, and he'll have his ups and downs. It was great that one of his ups was on Senior Night in a huge game."
Bonner-Prendie (14-8, 6-7) was led off the bench by Donovan Rodriguez, who finished with a team-high 12 points that came mostly after the game was out of reach. Tymir Cooper led the starters with 10 points. Ajiri Johnson added eight points and 10 rebounds.
In the first half, the Friars starters shot just 2 of 14 from past the arc, which led to a 37-23 deficit at intermission.
Because Carroll had lost four of its previous five, including a Houdini-like escape in double-overtime against Lansdale Catholic, Williams, who transferred from Norristown last season, said he and his coach implored the team to finish the job.
By the end of the third quarter, Carroll led, 60-34.
As a result, Williams, his senior teammates; mother, Karen Addison-Williams; father, Jeffrey Williams, and older brother, Omari Williams, could celebrate his birthday in style.
"It's my birthday, and its Senior Night, so I'm like we've got to go crazy, and I gotta erupt," Williams said. "We can't have a senior party without a win!"
Archbishop Carroll 15 22 22 14 - 73
Bonner-Prendie 10 13 11 16 - 50
AC: Khari Williams 16, Colin Daly 12, AJ Hoggard 11, Jesse McPherson 10, Luke House 2, Keyon Butler 5, Devon Ferrero 8, Justin Anderson 9.
B-P: Donovan Rodriguez 12, Tymir Cooper 10, Ajiri Johnson 8, Dylan Higgins 2, Justin Gans 2, Kevin Halligan 1, Tyreese Watson 2, Yohance Garner 2, Michael Perretta 6, Christian Lane 5.