Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Syracuse-Bound Ennis Goes for 14 as St. Benedict’s Snaps St. Anthony’s 83-Game Winning Streak (UPDATED)
NEWARK — The streak is over.
In the unofficial New Jersey state championship game, Syracuse-bound point guard Tyler Ennis scored 14 points and Pitt-bound forward Mike Young had 13 as St. Benedict’s Prep ended St. Anthony’s 83-game winning streak, 47-38, in the Newark National Invitational at the Prudential Center before a crowd of 4,349.
“It’s great,” Ennis said after receiving MVP honors. “[St. Anthony] gave us our first loss [last year], so for us to give them their first loss is just revenge in our hearts.”
St. Benedict’s victory avenged a 51-50 loss to St. Anthony in a January 2012 in a game played in Hackensack. The Gray Bees led by eight points in the second half, but couldn’t hold on.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe –who had guaranteed the victory — added 11 point for the Gray Bees, who are ranked No. 5 nationally by USA Today and were coming off their only loss of the season Wednesday at Blair.
“It means a lot,” Briscoe said of the win. “Earlier in the week, I guaranteed the victory because I had confidence in my team and I was only worried about my team.”
Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley and the No. 4-ranked Friars (18-1) hadn’t lost a game since March 13, 2010 to Trenton Catholic, a stretch of almost three years.
The last time they lost a game, the Yankees were the defending World Series champs and Tiger Woods was still married to Elin Nordegren.
St. Benedict’s students chanted, “Eighty-three and one” in the game’s final seconds.
“We lost by nine to a very good team,” Hurley said. “For us it’s not about the performance, not about the score, it’s about potential.
“I couldn’t come up with one positive.”
On this night, the Friars simply didn’t have enough offense to compete.
St. Anthony shot 12-of-44 (27 percent) from the field , while St. Benedict’s went 15-of-43 (35 percent).
“You know what, this is a great game for the state,” St. Benedict’s coach Mark Taylor said. “The crowd was great, the atmosphere was great. Both teams played very, very hard and played great defense.
“This was one of those ugly games that’s a great game. It’s kind of like watching two pitchers duel it out and the score’s 1-0 at the end of the night. It was who was going to persevere longer.”
Oregon State commit Hallice Cooke led St. Anthony with 12 points, while Temple signee Josh Brown managed 10 points. The duo combined for eight of the Friars’ 12 field goals.
St. Benedict’s led by as many as 16 points, 37-21, before St. Anthony closed it to within 41-35 with 2:01 remaining.
Jordan Forehand hit two foul shots to extend the lead to 43-35. Young then scored back-to-back baskets to make it 47-35.
St. Anthony’s loss ends a dramatic run that crossed two and a half seasons under Hurley, the Hall of Famer.
After beating St. Benedict’s last season, St. Anthony then beat an Andrew Wiggins-led Huntington Prep team the following month to keep their second perfect season alive with current UCLA freshman Kyle Anderson running the point.
St. Anthony went 65-0 across two seasons with Anderson at the school and then won their first 18 game of this season.
This game appeared to lose some of its luster after St. Benedict’s lost to Blair, but Ennis called that game “a wakeup call for us.”
“For this whole week, we were so focused, we just keyed in on whatever coach told us and it was just a wakeup call,” he said. “I think that really helped us get to this game.”
Rutgers coach Mike Rice and Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard were among those watching. Rutgers and Seton Hall are both recruiting Briscoe…Northwestern-bound PG Jaren Sina had 22 points and 10 assists to lead Gill St. Bernard’s over Roselle Catholic, 63-59. Illinois commit Austin Colbert added 15 points in the win. Syracuse signee Tyler Roberson went for 21 points and 17 boards in the loss, while 2015 wing Malachi Richardson had 17 points and six assists. He’s being recruited by Duke, Indiana, Ohio State and more.
Photo: St. Benedict’s Prep, Jersey Journal
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.