The sneakers were a fashion statement, but the Bishop Eustace basketball team made its main point with its play.
Wearing fluorescent orange sneakers with their white-with-black-trim home uniforms, the Crusaders took care of business with a hard-fought, 62-54 victory over Pennsauken in an Olympic Conference interdivision game on Friday night.
Senior guard Carson Puriefoy and senior forward Sho DaSilva led the way for Bishop Eustace (1-0), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer South Jersey Top 10.
Puriefoy, a 6-foot guard, collected 24 points along with five assists and three steals. The Stony Brook recruit scored 16 of his points in the second half.
DaSilva, a 6-3 forward, played a strong all-around game with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals.
But about those sneakers . . .
"We wanted to make a statement," Puriefoy said. "We felt like we could make a bold statement. But we had to back it up. Kids in school were telling us today, 'If you guys lose this game . . .' "
Bishop Eustace coach Bob Falconiero said every player in the program bought the bright orange sneakers.
"They're having fun with it," Falconiero said.
Senior forward Trevor Norton added 12 points and seven rebounds for Bishop Eustace.
Senior guard Julian Diaz, a recent transfer from St. Augustine Prep, led Pennsauken with 17 points. Diaz hit five three-point jumpers.
Senior forward Anewdys Saldana added 14 for Pennsauken (0-1).
"I thought we did some good things," Pennsauken coach Jon Taylor said. "When we moved the ball we got good shots. When we played team defense, we did a good job at that end. We just got outboarded and made some mental mistakes."
Puriefoy led an 11-0 surge as Bishop Eustace built a 17-point lead late in the third quarter.
"That's what great players do," Falconiero said.
But Pennsauken battled back to cut the deficit to six on a couple of occasions in the fourth quarter. Diaz made three deep jumpers in the period.
"He's a good pick-up," Taylor said of Diaz, who played important minutes as a reserve last season for a St. Augustine team that won the Non-Public A state title and finished No. 1 in the rankings.
Bishop Eustace got a strong game off the bench from senior Dexter Harris while juniors Tom Falconiero, the son of the coach, and Ry'n Bland also made valuable contributions.
"Eustace has always been known for balanced teams," Bob Falconiero said. "We've been stressing that."
Pennsauken 6 13 13 22 – 54
Bishop Eustace 14 14 17 17 – 62
P: Julian Diaz 17, Anewdys Saldana 14, Kyle Johnston 9, Stephen Cobb 3, Isaiah Ingram 2, Montell Bass 7, Manny Cortez 2.
BE: Carson Puriefoy 24, Sho DaSilva 15, Dexter Harris 5, Trevor Norton 12, Tom Falconiero 6.