They shoot. They shoot before practice, during practice and after practice.
“These guys stay late,” Neumann Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said of his players. “I cut practice short because I know they are going to stay another 45 minutes, shooting.”
They shoot. Ahead, behind or tied in a game.
So when they were down 47-43 early in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s Philadelphia Catholic League title game vs. Roman Catholic, there was no question how the Saints would try to respond.
Clutch shooting from behind the three-point line and at the free-throw line powered Neumann Goretti to a 66-58 victory over Roman Catholic before a capacity crowd in the Palestra.
Senior Cameron Young and junior Blaise Vespe buried three-pointers to fuel a 12-0 run and junior Hysier Miller sealed the deal by making nine of 10 free throws in the final two minutes and 31 seconds for Neumann Goretti.
“We’re always going to keep shooting,” said Arrigale, who set the Philadelphia Catholic League with his 11th title as a coach. He broke a 10-10 tie with former Roman Catholic coach Dennis Seddon.
Young, a 6-6 swingman and Bowling Green recruit, scored 22 to lead the way for Neumann Goretti, which won its 21st league title but first since capturing six in a row from 2009-14.
“We’re been building toward this for two years -- no, four years,” Young said. "We had to dig deep and we had enough in the tank to bring it home."
Sophomore Justice Williams scored 21 points, senior Lynn Greer scored 17 and sophomore Jalen Duren added 11 points with 16 rebounds for fifth-seeded Roman Catholic (16-9).
After making five three-pointers in the first quarter, the Saints did not convert a shot from beyond the arc in the second and third quarters. Roman Catholic seized command in the third quarter, and took a 47-43 lead on Greer’s two free throws early in the fourth.
That’s when Neumann Goretti responded with the 12-0 run to take command of the game. Vespe’s three-pointer from the corner gave the Saints a 48-47 lead and Young’s three-pointer from the wing extended the edge to 51-47.
“We live by that,” Arrigale said of the Saints’ three-point shooting. "Some games we’ve made 18 of them. Some games we’ve had off shooting nights, like Wednesday (in a 51-41 win over Archbishop Ryan in the semifinals).
“But we’re always going to keep shooting.”
Senior Jordan Hall, a St. Joseph’s recruit, tossed the basketball in the air in celebration as the buzzer sounded on the Saints’ championship.
“When I was a sophomore (at Cardinal O’Hara), I came to this game and watched and said, ‘That’s what I want,’” Howard said. “Now I got one.”
Arrigale had tied Seddon with 10 titles as a coach in 2014, when Neumann Gorettti finished that remarkable run of six in a row. But Roman Catholic (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) and Archbishop Wood (2017) kept Arrigale from capturing another crown over the next five seasons.
“I didn’t know if I was ever going to get the 11th one,” said Arrigale, the cut-down net from the post-game celebration around his neck in the interview room. “But I’ve never made it about me. This is about these guys.”
Hall’s two free throws gave Neumann Goretti a 53-47 lead with 4:20 left. After that, the Saints spread the floor, looking to run the clock down to their 21st title.
Miller was nearly flawless at the free-throw line down the stretch.
“He took over,” Arrigale said of Miller.
At 5:42 p.m, a good three hours before the tip of the boys’ final, an official came out of the lobby off of 33rd Street and told the assembled crowd, “The game is sold out.” At the same time, security officers began taping white paper signs with “Game Sold Out” on the glass doors of the old building.
“We’re not finished,” Hall said. “We have two more championships (city and state) to win.”
Roman Catholic 16 9 20 13 -- 58
Neumann Goretti 21 12 10 23 -- 66
RC: Lynn Greer III 17, Justice Williams 21, Jalen Duren 11, Xzayvier Brown 9, Christian Kirkland 0.
NG: Hakim Byrd 12, Hysier Miller 17, Jordan Hall 5, Cameron Young 22, Blaise Vespe 7, Chris Evans 3.