Bonner-Prendergast punches ticket to state semifinals

Ajiri Johnson posted 15 points as Bonner-Prendergast defeated Allentown Central Catholic, 71-61, in a PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal.

READING – When Allentown Central Catholic pulled to within one point of Bonner-Prendergast, Isaiah Wong, as his usual approach in crunch time, wanted the ball in his hands.

“In that fourth quarter, I was thinking to myself, ‘This game is too close,’ ” the junior floor general said. “I didn’t want the season to end. We’re so close to achieving our ultimate goal.”

With Wong registering a game-high 27 points and nine rebounds, the Friars held off the scrappy Vikings, 71-61, in Friday night’s PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal playoff at the Geigle Complex.

“I love situations like that, when the game is on the line and your team needs you to be a leader,” Wong said. “And the competition makes me a better player.”

The 6-foot-3, 165-pounder recorded 18 of his points after the break, shot 14 for 16 from the line, handed out four assists, and blocked two shots.

Wong showed why he is being heavily recruited by the likes of Miami, St. Joseph’s, Temple, Villanova and Xavier, among others.

St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli and Temple boss Fran Dunphy, along with Owls assistant Aaron McKie, were in the stands and watched the Catholic League’s most valuable player excel against the District 11 champs.

“It’s tough to guard Isaiah,” senior teammate Ajiri Johnson said. “And if you foul him, he’s going to hit his free throws.”

Johnson, a 6-8 center bound for Rider, contributed 15 points, 7 boards, and 2 assists. “We saw them on film,” he said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy win. We had to play tough, play our game.”

Bonner-Prendie (25-4) will face District 2 champs Abington Heights (25-3) in a semifinal Monday night at a neutral site and time to be determined. The Comets advanced Friday with a 76-56 triumph over District 3’s Northeastern.

The Vikings, who nailed nine three-pointers, cut the Friars’ advantage to 48-47 on Chad Kratzer’s trey with 6 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the game.

Wong and company gained breathing room from there with successful trips to the line. Overall, they made 35 of 44 freebies.

Bonner-Prendie’s Tariq Ingraham, a 6-9 junior forward and Division I recruit, provided 15 points, seven boards, and two assists. Senior guard Yohance Garner buried a pair of first-quarter treys.

The Friars advanced to the Catholic League final before coming up short against Roman Catholic, 51-49.

“This is kind of like a new season for us,” Johnson said. “Everybody on the team is locked in trying to accomplish the same thing. We want to finish the year on top.”

Allentown Central Catholic 10 13 17 21-61

Bonner-Prendergast 13 16 17 25-71

ACC: Jay Vaughan 17, Dat Lambert 10, Nick Filchner 8, Keeshawn Kellman 9, Chad Kratzer 17.

BP: Isaiah Wong 27, Yohance Garner 6, Ajiri Johnson 15, Tariq Ingraham 11, Mike Perretta 3, Donovan Rodriguez 7, Mahir Sharif 2.