The Philadelphia Catholic League won two out of three yesterday on the second day of the Jameer Nelson/Pete Nelson Scholastic Play by Play Classic, and both winners came from the league's Red Division.
St. Joseph's Prep defeated Wissahickon, 57-44, in the opening game, and La Salle bested Cheltenham, 69-56, before Girard College topped Archbishop Wood, 70-52, in the finale at the Griffin Complex at Gwynedd-Mercy College.
"People are saying our Red division is down because . . . in the other division they have Neumann-Goretti and [Archbishop] Carroll, and certainly Wood's good this year," La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said. "But there is not an easy game, from the top to the bottom, and that's why we try to play such a challenging nonleague schedule."
In its sixth year, the 19-game boys' basketball showcase features 30 teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
The tournament will return to Widener University this afternoon, where it began Saturday. Today will be the third of four days of competition before the tourney finishes Wednesday at Gwynedd-Mercy and North Catholic, with three games scheduled at each site.
Yesterday, La Salle and St. Joe's both maintained fourth-quarter leads by making foul shots down the stretch.
The Explorers hit 24 of 29 free throws and were led by 6-foot-2 junior guard Troy Hockaday (25 points, five rebounds, three steals).
"The key was playing defense and not turning the ball over and just keeping solid against the press," Hockaday said.
The Explorers' sophomores also came up big, including guards Mike Poncia (15 points) and Eddie Joyner-Mitchell (10 points, five assists) and center Steve Collins (four points, seven rebounds).
Cheltenham senior forward Rob Mansell led the Panthers with 25 points.
St. Joseph's Prep 57, Wissahickon 44 – St. Joe's made 11 of 14 foul shots in the fourth quarter. Hawks sophomore guard/forward Gene Williams led all scorers with 19 points and senior guard/forward Sean Brophy added 16.
A postgame altercation occurred between the coaching staffs over a flagrant foul committed by Wissahickon center Tom Sweeney, who was ejected.
Wissahickon coach Kyle Wilson said one of the St. Joseph's assistant coaches yelled from bench to bench, "Did you teach him that?" after the foul, prompting Wilson to approach the Hawks' bench after the game.
"You're never going to see a Wissahickon kid try to hurt somebody out there," Wilson said after the game. "Emotions were high, and he made a hard play on the ball. . . . Speedy [Morris] and I spoke walking off the court cordially. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's a legendary coach."
Morris expressed mutual respect for Wilson, and both coaches walked off the court shaking hands as they attempted to clarify the situation.
"He's a nice man," Morris said. "I know he doesn't teach that. But I told him, 'Just watch the tape.' [Number] 44 was out of control."
Swingman Jack O'Neill led Wissahickon with 12 points.
St. Joseph's will play again today at 2:30 p.m. against Marple Newtown at Widener.
Girard College 70, Archbishop Wood 52 - Torrell Candelaria scored 23 points and Clifford White 17 as the Cavaliers prevailed.
Joe Getz's 19 points led the Vikings. Girard College led by 16-4 after the first quarter and never let Wood back in the game.
Girard College finished 1-1 in the Nelson Classic, having lost to Strawberry Mansion, 74-72, at Widener on Saturday.