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Okoro sparks Gloucester victory

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, hitting five three-point jumpers, and senior guard Justin Smith had 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 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 that 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 two 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 his career to improve his ballhandling 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 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, Jordan Walker 5, Brendan Simmons 5.

G: Stefano Okoro 32, Tom O'Donnell 4, Chris Walmsley 17, Tyler Whitcraft 4.