St. Joseph’s Prep had a lot to celebrate at the end of Friday night’s Catholic League basketball quarterfinal playoff against Neumann-Goretti.
With a 54-40 triumph in South Philly, the seventh-place Hawks punched their first ticket to the Palestra since 2013 and handed the second-place Saints their first league setback at 11th and Moore streets since 2008.
“Wow, that’s crazy,” Prep senior guard Kyle Thompson said when informed of the end of N-G’s long home winning streak. “It makes this win even more special.”
The Prep also denied the Saints a berth in the semifinals for the first time since 2008. That year, Carl Arrigale’s squad fell to Monsignor Bonner in a quarterfinal.
Thompson produced 14 of his 16 points in the second half, going 10 for 10 from the free-throw line in the final nine minutes.
“After not doing so well at the line last season, I worked really hard at it in the offseason” the 6-foot, 185-pounder said. “I wouldn’t leave the gym until I made 10 swishes in a row.”
The Hawks, who beat N-G for the first time since 2008, will take on third-place Roman Catholic on Wednesday night at the Palestra. First-place Bonner-Prendergast will be paired against fourth-place Archbishop Carroll in the other semifinal.
Ahead by six points, the Hawks (16-7) went scoreless in the last 6 minutes, 35 seconds of the second quarter and trailed by 26-19 at intermission. “A lot of turnovers, a lot of bad passes, and a lot of bad decisions,” Thompson said of the drought.
Flipping the switch, Thompson and Co. outscored N-G, 10-0, in the third quarter. The run was started by Ed Croswell’s two inside buckets and Thompson’s right-side, driving layup.
N-G’s first second-half points came on Marcus Littles’ baseline jumper with 7:11 remaining. The Saints (17-6) shot 0 for 8 from the field in the third quarter, when they committed seven turnovers, and 5 for 17 in the fourth.
“We wanted to get the upper hand on them, and then not let them come up for air,” Thompson said. “That’s exactly what we did.”
Croswell, a 6-7 senior and La Salle University signee, delivered 18 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals while battling the 6-8 Littles, who is bound for George Washington, in the paint.
“Ed did a great job,” said Thompson, who added six boards and two steals. “He had some key rebounds and big blocks. We wouldn’t have won without him.”
Prep sophomore wing guard Trevor Wall scored seven of his 11 points in the first quarter, grabbed four caroms, and dished three assists. Overall, the Hawks shot 22 for 28 (16 for 22 in the fourth period) from the charity stripe.
St. Joseph’s Prep 13 6 10 25-54
Neumann-Goretti 11 15 0 14-40
SJP: Darius Kinnel 4, Kyle Thompson 16, Ed Croswell 18, Trevor Wall 11, Gabe Arizin 5.
NG: Dymir Montague 8, Chris Ings 4, Marcus Littles 10, Ja’Cor Smith 13, Noah Warren 3, Hakim Byrd 2.