Slow start, furious finish.
That was the script for Neumann Goretti’s Cameron Young and Jordan Hall in Friday night’s instant classic of a double-overtime clash with Philadelphia Catholic League arch-rival Roman Catholic.
The senior swingmen came alive after halftime, sparking Neumann-Goretti to a 77-69 victory before an overflow crowd in the Saints’ little gymnasium.
“This showed how far we’ve come as a team,” Young said. “We just stuck with it. We just kept fighting when things were going wrong."
Young scored 10 of his 11 points after the third quarter, and Hall scored 15 of his 21 after halftime for Neumann Goretti (12-2 overall, 5-0 in the league), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10.
Senior guard Hakim Byrd scored 18 points, and junior guard Hysier Miller added 16, including four in the second overtime, for Neumann Goretti, which rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play our best, but we’re talked about being gritty, being tough,” NG coach Carl Arrigale said. “We’re a team that doesn’t rely on one guy. We rely on each other.”
Sophomore center Jalen Duren generated 27 points with 15 rebounds and three blocks, and senior guard Lynn Greer III added 17 points for No. 4 Roman Catholic (8-6, 4-2).
“Playing in these types of games is a learning experience,” Roman Catholic coach Matt Griffin said. “We’ll grow from it. We’ll get better from it.”
Spectators filled both bleacher sections and crammed into all four corners of Neumann Goretti’s gym off 11th Street in South Philadelphia.
“This is the 40-something game with Roman I’ve coached, and most of them are like this,” Arrigale said. “I guess that’s why my phone was ringing all week.”
Roman Catholic opened the second half on a 9-0 run, fueled by one of Duren’s three put-back slams as well as a dunk by sophomore guard Justice Williams (13 points, eight rebounds).
The 6-9 Duren, rated as one of the country’s top players in the class of 2022, was dominant in the paint.
“When he gets it down deep, you’re asking for trouble,” Arrigale said of Duren.
Young and junior Blaise Vespe (eight points) tried to contain Duren, who finished with six dunks.
“He’s a great player,” Young said. “He’s hard to guard.”
The last 95 seconds of regulation were great theater. Freshman Xzayvier Brown gave Roman a 61-58 lead with a three-pointer. Young answered with a three-ball.
Greer spun inside for a layup and a 63-61 lead with 54 seconds left. Hall answered with a driving bucket at :40.
“We stayed as one,” Hall said.
Roman Catholic held for the last shot, but Greer’s fallaway kicked off the rim at the buzzer.
Hall and Miller made buckets to give NG the lead in the first overtime. But Duren answered with a dunk, and Greer hit a pullup jumper to knot the score at the :50 mark.
NG held for the last shot, but Duren’s block sent the game into the second overtime.
“He was terrific,” Griffin said of Duren.
Hall’s tip-in and Miller’s driving hoop pushed the home team into a four-point lead. After Duren made one free throw, Young made a pullup jumper in the lane for a 74-69 lead, and the Saints were able to seal the deal at the foul line, bringing their student section onto the court in celebration at the buzzer.
“This is the first time I’ve beaten Roman,” Hall said. “I’m not going to make a big deal about it. We’ll see them again in February.”
Roman Catholic 15 17 18 13 5 1 – 69
Neumann-Goretti 20 14 11 18 5 9 – 77
RC: Lynn Greer 17, Justice Williams 13, Jalen Duren 27, Xzayvier Brown 5, Nasir Lett 3, Will Norman 4.
NG: Hakim Byrd 18, Hysier Miller 16, Blaise Vespe 8, Cameron Young 11, Jordan Hall 21, Chris Evans 3.