The coach tried hard to leave a blowout loss in the past.
“We didn’t discuss it. We didn’t go over stats. They beat us up and down the floor. They were better than us. There’s nothing you can say,” said St. Augustine boys’ basketball coach Paul Rodio.
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But it wasn’t so easy for the players.
“All of South Jersey knows we got embarrassed. … So we wanted to come out here and put it on them today,” said junior forward Matt Delaney.
On the heels of a 39-point loss to Wildwood Catholic on Wednesday — one of the worst losses in recent memory for one of South Jersey’s top programs — the Hermits did bounce back with an 82-74 win over a surging Bordentown on Saturday at the 13th annual Jeff Coney Classic at Rancocas Valley.
While St. Augustine was coming off their worst loss in years, Bordentown entered the contest after one of its best wins in years.
The Scotties beat state power Trenton Catholic, 75-73, for the first time in program history on Thursday. It was their seventh straight win. Saturday was further proof that Bordentown (10-3) belongs in the conversation with the area’s best teams.
But St. Augustine (11-3), clearly eager to get back on the court, jumped out to an 11-3 lead in less than three minutes — including a steal and fast-break by Kevin Foreman on the game’s second possession — and never lost the lead.
“I’m happy we bounced back. You have to have a short memory,” said Rodio. “I was just happy we carried out the game plan today.”
Delaney led St. Augustine with 22 points and 13 rebounds and helped the Scotties control the paint throughout the game.
Sophomore guard Elmarko Jackson, who looks like an emerging star for St. Augustine, was solid on both ends of the floor. After not scoring in the first quarter, Jackson finished with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.
It was particularly impressive since Jackson was matched with Bordentown’s Jordan Martin, one of South Jersey’s top all-around guards, for most of the game.
Martin finished with 22 points but fouled out with 5 minutes, 16 seconds left. The fifth foul was committed on Jackson.
“I love playing against good guards. It makes me better, and it helps my game improve,” Jackson said.
Rodio said he’s been pleased with his young guard’s development but thinks he has even more room for growth.
“He made some moves again tonight … where he just looks like he’s unstoppable, and then he’ll make one or two plays [that you don’t understand],” Rodio said. “I think he’s evolving, very slowly, into a very, very good player.”
Despite the loss, Bordentown coach John Myers was pleased with his team’s effort, particularly the balanced play that has carried the team through its most recent winning streak.
The Scotties received some inspired play by senior swingman Gavin Shiver, who had 10 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. Guard Armaan Gill scored all 15 of his points from beyond the arc, including three triples in the fourth quarter.
“St. Augustine is as good a team as you can get, and one of the things we have to figure out is size because we’re not the biggest team in the world,” Myers said. “But I was really pleased with the fact that we played until the very end of the game.”
St. Augustine 25 20 22 15 — 82
Bordentown 17 18 18 21 — 74
SA: Matthew Delaney 22, Elmarko Jackson 21, Kevin Foreman 17, Keith Palek 10, Nick Leo 4, John Horner 8.