HERSHEY, Pa. - The Neumann-Goretti boys' basketball team can attribute part of its most recent PIAA Class AAA state championship to the free-throw shooting work it put in at 10th and Moore.
In the final Friday night at the Giant Center, the Saints went a respectable 21 for 29 from the stripe compared with Catholic League rival Archbishop Carroll's ghastly 10 for 25 showing.
The result was a 69-67 triumph for the Saints, marking the program's fifth state crown in six seasons and its 13th consecutive victory over the Patriots.
"This is the best free-throw- shooting team I've ever had," N-G coach Carl Arrigale said. "We've made them all year. We have three guys who shoot 80 percent or better."
After losing four-year star Ja'Quan Newton (now at Miami) to graduation, many wondered if Arrigale's squad would have enough left in the cupboard to again make major noise. The Saints missed out on their seventh straight Catholic League title, but defended their state crown.
"The mind-set all year was to keep the dynasty going," said junior wing guard Zane Martin, who led the way against Carroll with 26 points and six boards.
Martin, a reserve last year, shot 8 for 18 from the field (2 for 5 from beyond the arc) and 8 for 9 from the line. His fastbreak layup produced a 52-48 lead with 31/2 minutes to play.
"He was great," Arrigale said. "He really played within himself. There were times this year when he wasn't able to do that."
Fellow guards Vaughn Covington (17), Quade Green (14), and Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble (10) also were double-digit scorers. Covington, who drilled a pair of first-quarter three-pointers, dished five assists.
Martin, who has heard from the likes of St. Joseph's and Towson; Covington (4 for 6); and Green (6 for 6) went a combined 18 for 21 at the line.
Derrick Jones starred for the Patriots, delivering 30 points, 18 boards (13 on offense), and 5 blocks. But the 6-foot-7 forward and UNLV recruit struggled from the line, going 4 for 15.
"The kid played great down the stretch, played to the final buzzer," Arrigale said of Jones. "He gave them everything he had."
With Jones collecting 15 points and seven boards, Carroll (23-7) was ahead, 27-24, at intermission. For the Saints, who shot 2 for 13 from three-point range in the opening 16 minutes, Martin and Covington each netted nine points before the break.
Down by 29-28 in the third stanza, N-G (29-2) took the lead for good with an 11-2 spurt that was capped by Martin's trey, Covington's bucket, and Kimble's triple.
In the fourth quarter, Kimble's driving layup upped the advantage to 47-42. The Patriots briefly evened things at 48-48 on Ryan Daly's follow with 4:10 to go.
Sharkey chipped in 13 points, 10 boards, and 5 assists. Teammate David Beatty hit two treys on the way to 11 points.
Archbishop Carroll 14 13 9 31 - 67
Neumann-Goretti 9 15 19 26 - 69
AC: Josh Sharkey 13, Ryan Daly 9, Samir Taylor 4, Derrick Jones 30, David Beatty 11.
NG: Lamarr Kimble 10, Quade Green 14, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree 2, Zane Martin 26, Vaughn Covington 17.