Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale was hoping his young boys' basketball team would be ready to stand up against Plymouth Whitemarsh, another relatively young squad, in their anticipated Jameer Nelson Classic heavyweight matchup Wednesday night at Gwynedd-Mercy College.
Not only did the Saints stand up, but they delivered a knockout punch to the defending PIAA Class AAAA champions. Neumann-Goretti earned a 68-57 win after falling behind, 20-12, after one quarter.
The Saints overcame a 27-point performance by the Colonials' 6-foot-7 senior, Jaylen Bond. The Saints received a break when Bond picked up his fourth personal foul on a controversial call three minutes into the third quarter.
They used a 9-0 run to close out the quarter and never felt threatened, even when Bond returned from sitting out at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
"Coach Arrigale told us we couldn't get our heads down after we fell behind early," said 6-4 forward John Davis, who led Neumann (3-1) in scoring with 15 points. He was of four players in double figures for the Saints. In addition to Davis, Lamin Fulton scored 12, and Bill Shank and Derrick Stewart each added 11.
"I thought we stood up and defended pretty well," Arrigale said.
"We're a little younger than Plymouth Whitemarsh. I didn't think we were competing that well in the beginning."
The Colonials (4-2), whose only previous loss was to Neshaminy, will open Suburban One League American Conference play Tuesday against Upper Dublin. They overcame a three-point, first-quarter deficit to beat Long Island Lutheran, 62-54, in their opening game Tuesday in the Nelson Classic.
After losing their eight-point edge after one period, the Colonials saw the game tied twice before the Saints moved to a 32-27 halftime lead. They never lost the lead after that.
The Saints have one more nonleague game before they open defense of their Catholic League championship Jan. 6 against La Salle. Sunday, the three-time league titlists will play Christ the King of New York at the Palestra.
"That should be quite a game, too," Arrigale said of the matchup with Christ the King.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 20 7 11 19 – 57
Neumann-Goretti 12 20 16 20 – 68
PW: Marcus Badger 4, Stephon Baker 11, Jaylen Bond 27, Brandon Johnson 2, Sam Pygatt 8, Jake Silvers 3, Kenny Williams 2.
NG: La'Quan Coaxum 7, John Davis 15, Lamin Fulton 12, Ja'Quan Newton 7, Billy Shank 11, Derrick Stewart 11, Harif Sutton 5.