READING - Gemil Holbrook and Roman Catholic had to sweat out the closing minutes of another PIAA Class AAAA state basketball playoff contest. This time, it was against a small but resilient squad from Lancaster.
"It's been real tight down the stretch the last two games," Holbrook said. "It's kind of tough on the heart. We can't allow the other team to hang around like that. It's going to come back and bite us."
Roman emerged with a 69-66 victory over J.P. McCaskey in a hard-fought semifinal Tuesday night at the Geigle Complex only after Kobe Gantz's right-wing, three-point try at the buzzer barely missed finding the mark.
"We're living a little dangerously here," said Roman coach Chris McNesby, whose squad eked out a 58-57 quarterfinal win over Pennsbury on Saturday. "Luckily, we're coming up with stops at the right time."
Against McCaskey, which was playing the role of Cinderella as District 3's No. 8 seed, Roman needed a 10-for-12 effort from the line in the fourth quarter to clinch its first berth in the state final. Tony Carr went 7 for 8 from the stripe in the frame, including two clutch makes with 5.4 seconds remaining.
In an all-District 12 matchup, the Cahillites (28-2) will take on Martin Luther King (23-8) for top honors at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. King ousted District 8's Allderdice, 48-35, in another semifinal.
Carr, a junior point guard and Division I recruit, led the way against the Red Tornado (23-11) with 19 points, six assists, and six rebounds. Overall, he shot 10 for 12 from the line.
Holbrook, a 6-foot-5 senior wing guard who will continue his career at Rider, shot 3 for 6 from beyond the arc on the way to 13 points. He sat out five minutes of the second quarter after picking up his second foul.
"I've been getting good looks at the basket lately," Holbrook said. "When that happens, it's up to me to knock down the shots."
Nazeeer Bostick (17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks), 6-5 reserve Manny Taylor (11 points, eight rebounds), and D'Andre Vilmar (nine points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists) also pitched in for the Catholic League champs.
Gantz spurred McCaskey, which shot 9 for 24 from three-point range, with 26 points. Gantz and fellow guard Randolph Speller (11 points) each nailed four threes.
Roman Catholic 18 18 13 20 - 69
J.P. McCaskey 13 17 22 14 - 66
RC: Tony Carr 16, D'Andre Vilmar 9, Nazeer Bostick 17, Gemil Holbrook 13, Manny Taylor 11, Dakquan Davis 3.