By Phil Anastasia
Lots of guys can dunk in the open floor.
That's regular explosion.
Not many guys can dunk off a half-court set.
That's remarkable explosion.
Senior guard Stefano Okoro scored 32 points Thursday to lead Gloucester to a 57-42 victory over Holy Cross in the first round of the Audubon Holiday Tournament in boys' basketball.
Junior forward Chris Walmsley scored 17, including five three-point jumpers, and senior guard Justin Smith dealt six assists for Gloucester (3-1), which advanced to face Audubon in Friday's title game.
Senior forward Brandon Rowe scored 11 for Holy Cross (2-2).
"That was a soft effort on our part," Holy Cross coach Barry Harper said. "But don't take anything away from Gloucester. That's a solid club and they have a special player."
The 6-foot Okoro was 13-for-18 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line. He collected six rebounds and three steals, threw down three dunks and made a trio of three-point jumpers.
"We're going as far as he takes us," Gloucester coach Kevin Hagan said.
Okoro's first basket was his most impressive. With Gloucester running its half-court offense, he took a pass on the left wing, beat his man with a jab-step move, took one dribble and rose up for a two-handed slam in traffic.
"That was a huge moment for me," Okoro said. "That got us off to a great start."
Hagan said Okoro's first basket "set the tone for the game."
By the end of the first quarter, Okoro had 14 points with two dunks, two three-pointers and a pair of steals.
Okoro is a four-year starter. He is on pace to become Gloucester's No. 2 all-time scorer, behind 1998 graduate Keith Gorman. Okoro has worked during the course of his career to improve his ball-handling and outside shot.
He was 3-for-3 from distance against Holy Cross.
"He can go to the basket with anybody," Harper said. "I didn't realize he was that smooth from three-point range."
Okoro has drawn recruiting interest from Rider, Boston University, Maine and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
"He definitely can play at the next level," Harper said. "He's a heck of a player and he's a gentleman."
Holy Cross 15 11 6 10 -- 42
Gloucester 19 17 9 12 -- 57
HC: Dan Schmid 6, Greg Kousoulos 7, Phil Cunha 6, Logan Hill 2, Brandon Rowe 11, Jorsan Walker 5, Brendan Simmons 5.
G: Stefano Okoro 32, Justin Smith 0, Tom O'Donnell 4, Chris Walmsley 17, Tyler Whitcraft 4.