O'Brien: Roman Catholic is the team of the year
Roman Catholic made two huge breakthroughs this season. The Cahillites beat Neumann-Goretti to claim the program's first Catholic League championship since 2007 and 29th overall. Their 64-59 win at the Palestra also denied the Saints a record seventh straight league title.
Roman Catholic made two huge breakthroughs this season.
The Cahillites beat Neumann-Goretti to claim the program's first Catholic League championship since 2007 and 29th overall. Their 64-59 win at the Palestra also denied the Saints a record seventh straight league title.
Then, in reversing what had been a mostly frustrating experience in six PIAA state playoff appearances, Chris McNesby's squad won five consecutive contests to earn the program's first Class AAAA state crown.
In an all-District 12 final at Hershey's Giant Center, Roman closed with a 62-45 win over Martin Luther King.
After the Catholic League joined the PIAA in 2008-2009, the Cahillites lost in the first round of states in four of their first five tries. Their previous best showing was a run to the quarterfinals in 2010.
"I feel so good for our alumni and all the people who have supported us all along," McNesby said after beating King for a second time. "To give them a win in a big stage like this, it's very satisfying."
For putting a disappointing playoff past behind it and earning league and statewide glory, Roman (29-2) is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania boys' basketball team of the year.
Roman finished with 10 straight victories, including a 58-57 win over Pennsbury and a 69-66 triumph over District 3's Lancaster McCaskey in the state quarters and semis, respectively.
The headliners were guards Tony Carr (12 ppg.), Gemil Holbrook (84 three-pointers), and D'Andre Vilmar; swingman Nazeer Bostick; and forwards Paul Newman and Manny Taylor.
In seven seasons at Broad and Vine, McNesby, who played at Roman (Class of 1995) and East Stroudsburg, has compiled a 141-51 record (.734 winning percentage).
Here are some other season-ending awards:
Coach of the year. McNesby and several others (Pennridge's Dean Behrens and Abington's Charles Grasty, to name two) were worthy of the honor, but the nod goes to Conwell-Egan's Frank Sciolla.
In his second year at the school, Sciolla guided the Eagles to a 21-8 mark and, with a 62-51 win over previously undefeated Aliquippa, the Class AA state title.
Sciolla has a 346-171 record (.669) in 19 seasons. His previous stops were at Bristol (30-19) and Pennsbury (280-136, seven Suburban One League titles).
Newcomer of the year. In his first year with the varsity, senior guard James McGovern helped St. Joseph's Prep go 18-5. He averaged 10.1 points and 3.1 assists, drilled 46 three-pointers, and shot 86.4 percent (51 for 59) from the free-throw line.
Sixth man of the year. Manny Taylor played a pivotal role for Roman, averaging eight points and five rebounds while earning third-team all-Catholic honors.
The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder, who will play football at Rutgers, posted 17 points, five offensive rebounds, and two assists in a regular-season win over Neumann-Goretti.
Comeback player of the year. After missing his sophomore season with a broken left tibia, Friends' Central wing De'Andre Hunter averaged 20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks.
Rookie of the year. Freshman guard Tyree Pickron averaged 11.6 points for Archbishop Wood.
Best performance in a loss. In a second-round state defeat against Plymouth Whitemarsh, Pennridge junior guard Danny Long produced 24 points, 11 rebounds, (five on offense), and 10 assists.