SJ Prep Miles Ahead of La Salle in Catholic Quarterfinal
By Ted Silary
Miles Overton tried to put a wonderful half of basketball into context and decided it ranked No. 2 in his St. Joseph's Prep career.
He placed it behind a great 16 minutes he experienced against Plymouth-Whitemarsh because that one yielded more points.
Then he thought for a moment and a light appeared to illuminate his head.
"But this game was more important," he said. "So, obviously, this one WAS better."
The occasion Friday afternoon, before a standing-room-only crowd at 17th and Girard, was a Catholic League quarterfinal. Plus, the opponent was La Salle, its biggest rival and the CL's only other fully private school.
Early and often, the 6-4, 205-pound Overton, a swingman for now but expected to play wing guard at Wake Forest, seized the game by the throat and refused to let go.
His 26 points, which fueled a 74-57 victory and earned the Hawks a semifinal match with Roman Catholic on Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the Palestra (Ss. Neumann-Goretti vs. Archbishop Carroll to follow at 8:30), would have been impressive enough, especially since he notched 19 in a 38-16 first half. But Overton also claimed 16 total rebounds and mixed in four assists.
And to think, it was all proceeded by a little bit of choreography.
Just before the starting Hawks were introduced by PA man Andrew Whelan, Overton could be spotted speaking with sub Mark Hueber, who greets each guy after he finishes a mini-dash through lines of subs.
Turns out, the Prep has a tradition for playoff games.
"I was telling Mark that I was going to do the salute, and to be ready, and to make sure he stepped to the side so everyone (in the student section) could see it," Overton said.
He added, "Maybe five minutes before the game, one of kids screamed over toward us, 'Who's doing the salute?!' I told him I would. Those guys give us GREAT support and they only ask for that (to be acknowledged in a specific way) for playoffs. So, when I finished my little routine with Mark, he did step over and we both saluted them."
Later, the kids could have nominated Overton for the Prep's sports hall of fame. That's how good he was.
In the first half, he shot 7-for-9 (two threes) and 3-for-3 (after getting hacked while attempting a trey) for those 19 points. He also claimed seven of his boards while adding an assist and a steal.
Overton was so juiced, and confident, at one point he got the ball on the right wing and basically told everyone else to fully leave the area. He was gonna do his thing and there was no way La Salle was gonna stop him.
"That's our iso 1 play," he said. "It can be run for anybody. I just felt confident there, so I wanted to clear out that side and take my man. Yup, I was telling everybody, 'Get outta here.' I was feeling very confident.
"The coaches were telling me to be aggressive from the jump. La Salle had a hard time guarding me in our last game, so I was looking to force the issue."
Though Overton's performance was eye-popping, there was even a more amazing development. Teammate Stephen Vasturia, a Notre Dame signee, did not even take a shot until the Hawks had 24 points on the scoreboard.
It was a three, which missed, but Stevie V hardly experienced a game-long drought. He wound up scoring 23 points, with 18 coming after intermission.
"That's why it's so much fun to play with somebody like that," Overton said. "If I'm not hitting, he'll take over. Or if he's not hitting, I'll take over."
Somehow, Overton took no shots in the third quarter until 38.8 seconds remained. He was fouled (and missed both free throws) on that one, so it didn't go onto the stat sheet. And in the fourth quarter, he went just 1-for-2 from the floor while hitting five of six free throws. He also snagged eight of his boards in that session.
Among the appreciative witnesses? His father, Doug, the former Murrell Dobbins Tech/La Salle University star and long-time NBA player. These days, he's an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets.
"I think this was the fourth game he made it to," Miles said. "I always appreciate it when he gets here because it's not easy with an NBA schedule. He made it to our Senior Night game against Conwell-Egan (Feb. 8) and I REALLY appreciated that because to make sure he'd be here he skipped the Nets' game with the Wizards."
Soph Chris Clover also scored in double figures (13) for the Prep while adding eight rebounds. P.J. Kelly dealt five assists and Kyle Thompson mixed eight points with five boards.
La Salle was dealt an early blow when star guard Amar Stukes (La Salle University signee) incurred two personals. He wound up with 18 points, two more than Pat Cooney. Ryan Winslow snagged eight rebounds and Stukes had six assists.
Though the Explorers did cause a hint of consternation with three minutes to go, advancing within 10, the pedal again was stepped on, hard.
"You always get a little concerned when a good opponent comes at you," said Overton, a West Chester resident and future communications major. "But I still thought we had things under control. I believe in our guys."
He also has faith in the student section.
"They're the best," he said. "It's like we're always playing in a college atmosphere. Once we get to the Palestra, they'll be even crazier."