Catholic League title game won't just be about star power

Quade Green (left) and Dhamir Cosby Roundtree of Neumann-Goretti celebrate after a basket in the 2nd quarter of their victory over Roman Catholic at the Palestra on Feb. 22, 2017 in the Catholic League semi-finals.

The stars in Monday's Catholic League championship are already well-known.

Archbishop Wood senior Collin Gillespie and Neumann-Goretti senior Quade Green are point guards headed to Villanova and Kentucky, respectively.

Gillespie's 24.1 points per game also led the league in scoring during the regular season, followed by Green's 22.8.

When the Vikings beat the Saints, 82-73, on Jan. 24, the pair dazzled a capacity crowd at Archbishop Ryan.

Gillespie finished with 42 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Green had 30 points and seven assists.

Also, Green's teammate, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, a 6-foot-8 senior, will be Gillespie's teammate at Villanova.

Monday night at the Palestra, however, don't forget about the ancillary pieces that allow the stars to star.

Key pieces for the Vikings. Keith Otto is a 6-foot senior guard who could be charged with chasing Green so that Gillespie doesn't have to. Guarding Green will likely be a team effort, but in the first matchup Gillespie didn't guard Green often. Shawn Thompson, a senior running back on the football team, also helped wear down Green in the first meeting.

Whether scoring or assisting, Gillespie shoulders much of the offensive burden for the Vikings. As a result, Otto and Co.'s willingness to chase Green indirectly helps Wood's offense.

Andrew Funk is a 6-foot-4 junior wing who provides offensive punch off the bench. In the semifinals against Archbishop Ryan, Funk finished with 10 points, including five in the fourth quarter. His ability to create off the dribble, score in the mid-range, and get to the basket makes Wood especially dangerous because it takes pressure off Gillespie to manufacture every point.

Tyree Pickron and Matt Cerutti provide versatility on both ends. Pickron is a streaky-shooting, 6-foot-3 junior who is adept at turning defensive rebounds into fastbreaks. Cerutti, a 6-foot-5 senior, is a jack-of-all-trades who can hit spot-up three-pointers and mid-range jumpers and also pass effectively.

Lastly, Seth Pinkney and Karrington Wallace patrol the paint and will be important, considering a strength for Neumann-Goretti is its interior size.

Key pieces for the Saints. Christian Ings is a sophomore guard who can score in a variety of ways off the bench. He is talented enough to be a starter, but the Saints use his ability to score in transition and off the dribble as a spark that alleviates some of the offensive pressure on Green, who might have run out of gas in the second half of the loss to Wood.

Green facilitated the Saints offense and guarded Gillespie frequently in the first matchup. He also got into foul trouble in the second half.

Marcus Littles is a 6-foot-9 junior who transferred from Academy of the New Church. Littles had his way inside, hitting 6 of 7 shots when the teams met in January. He also helps Cosby-Roundtree in the interior, but staying out of foul trouble has been a problem, as has matching up against quicker lineups.

The Saints will also likely need offensive production from the trio of Mike Milsip, Noah Warren, and Dhymir Montague. When the Saints beat Imhotep, the No. 7 team in the nation according to USA Today, Milsip supplied an offensive spark N-G used to gain control in the second half earlier this season.

Perhaps more important, it would help if at least one in that triumvirate had some defensive success against Gillespie.

Milsip, at 6-foot-4, has the frame and height to be physical, but he likely lacks the lateral agility to stay in front of Gillespie consistently.

At 5-foot-10, Warren, a senior, is likely not tall enough nor strong enough to bother the 6-foot-2 Gillespie. Montague, a 6-foot-2 junior who comes off the bench, is perhaps the best matchup of the three.

In the last eight seasons, the Catholic League title has been claimed by either Neumann-Goretti (six in a row) or Roman Catholic (the last two). Whether a new king is crowned or a previous dynasty returns to glory, don't expect Monday's championship game to be won by stars alone.

@AceCarterINQ