Matt Risse needs to practice.
It just didn't seem that way on Friday night.
Risse saw his first live action of the season as Paul VI hosted Camden Catholic in another clash of South Jersey basketball's Hatfields and McCoys.
With a capacity-plus crowd in the Eagles' gym to watch the latest game in a rivalry that has risen to a new level of intensity, Risse scored 20 points to help Paul VI to a 67-44 victory.
"It was awesome to finally get out there," said Risse, a 6-foot-4 junior forward. "I've been going crazy just watching and riding the stationary bike at practice."
Junior swingman Jay Howard collected 20 points and nine rebounds and junior forward Jair Green added 12 points, five rebounds, four blocks, and three steals for Paul VI (3-0 overall, 1-0 Olympic National), the No. 4 team in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings.
Senior forward Kyle Green, a Temple recruit, scored 18 for No. 10 Camden Catholic (1-2, 0-1).
Risse sprained his right foot in the second practice of the preseason. He missed every scrimmage and the Eagles' first two games.
He went hard at practice on Thursday, and looked in midseason form Friday. He scored 13 in the fourth quarter, making a trio of three-pointers, as Paul VI rebuffed Camden Catholic's last rally and pulled away.
"We were moving the ball, and I had some open looks," said Risse, who also grabbed nine rebounds.
With junior lead guard DeVahnte Mosley (five assists, three steals), a transfer from Philadelphia's Neumann-Goretti, controlling the tempo, Paul VI broke the game open with a 21-2 surge in the second quarter.
With a lineup that goes 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, and 6-4, the Eagles used their length and athleticism to cover the court at the defensive end, crash the offensive glass, and create matchup problems for the Irish.
"We have a lot of interchangeable parts," Paul VI coach Tony Devlin said.
Risse and Howard said the Eagles drew added motivation from the pregame introductions, when Camden Catholic players did not shake hands with Devlin, who was standing at halfcourt.
"We took that personal," Howard said.
The most recent bad blood between the old rivals seems to stem from the decision by junior guard Ivan Robinson to transfer from Camden Catholic to Paul VI in the summer.
Robinson, who started for the Irish last season, sat on the Eagles bench Friday night and will not be eligible until mid-January under NJSIAA transfer rules.
Risse said the pregame scene "put a fire inside us."
Risse thinks his game will improve once he gets a few practices under his belt. He said he needs the work.
"I definitely need practice," Risse said. "I was just fortunate enough to knock down open shots."
Camden Catholic 12 2 19 11 – 44
Paul VI 11 21 11 24 – 67
CC: Kyle Green 18, Tom Organ 2, Rob Brosh 10, Brendan Crawford 9, Matt Green 3, Jim Robinson 2.
PVI: Jay Howard 20, Matt Risse 20, DeVahnte Mosley 2, Mike Morello 3, Jair Green 12, Matt O'Keefe 10.