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.
After a long and busy National Signing Day in the SNY studio, I hustled down here to the RAC for what likely will be the top high school basketball game played in New Jersey this year: St. Patrick (16-2) vs. St. Benedict’s (19-0). Read my preview from the other day.
Rutgers head coach Fred Hill is sitting courtside next to Mike Rosario, and Bobby Gonzalez and the entire Seton Hall staff are one row behind them on the other side. UConn assistant Andre LaFleur, St. John’s assistant Fred Quartlebaum, Ionaassistant and former St. Pat’s star Shaheen Holloway and Penn assistant Mike Martin were also in the house. Everyone’s hot on the trail of Kyrie Irving, who listed about 15 offers. Penn is recruiting Aaron Brown of St. Ben’s.
Here’ s a live blog:
Final Box – St. Benedict’s 62: Biruta 1-0-1-3, Brown 0-1-1-4, Frankoski 0-1-0-3, Jackson 1-2-2-10, Kabongo 4-1-2-13, Kambola 0-0-0-0, Munford 1-0-1-3, Owino 0-0-0-0, Patterson 1-0-3-5, Poole 1-0-1-3, Sledge 2-0-1-5, Thompson 3-0-7-13. Totals: 14-5-19-62.
St. Patrick 88: Bennett 4-0-0-8, Billing 0-0-0-0, Boyle 1-1-5-10, Cadet 0-0-0-0, Daniel 0-0-0-0, Gilchrist 1-0-2-4, Gordon 3-0-4-10, Irving 5-0-11-21, Jones 0-0-2-2, Kowalski 1-1-0-5, Lane 0-0-0-0, Plummer 2-0-3-7, Strickland 4-3-4-21, Gibson 0-0-0-0. Totals: 21-5-31-88.
St. Benedict’s (19-1) 17 8 20 17 — 62
St. Patrick (17-2) 21 24 29 14 — 88
9:19 – The Pat’s fans are chanting “IT’s all over” and it just about is. The Celtics win it 88-62 in what has to be the most anticlimactic big-time high school game I’ve seen…maybe ever. Did someone give the Gray Bees a dose of NyQuil in their Juiceboxes because they just didn’t show up here tonight.
9:14 – It’s 82-48 St. Pat’s and we’re just about done here. There is no noise and no excitement in this game, hasn’t been since St. Pat’s outscored St. Ben’s 24-8 in the second quarter to a take a 45-25 lead. More later with final stats and quotes.
9:01 – After three quarters, St. Patrick is putting the hammer down, 74-45. Strickland and Irving have taken the game over, and the St. Ben’s guards are nowhere to be found. The crowd of about 2,000 is starting to file out. Danny Hurley looks speechless on the sidelines. Kevin Boyle, wearing a suit, is calmly instructing his team at the break. St. Ben’s will lose for the first time all season, meaning they won’t be undefeated when they face No. 1 Mater Dei (also unbeaten) Saturday night on ESPNU.
I predicted St. Pat’s to win the TofC before the season and this performance only emboldens that prediction. I don’t see any Jersey teams beating the Celtics, including St. Anthony.
8:56 – The Celtics are flat out giving it to the Gray Bees at this point. It’s 64-38 after Chase Plummer scored on a layup, flexed to the crowd and then hit a free throw for the three-point play.
8:54 – Just noticed that Freddie Hill is now sitting in Gonzo’s old seat in between Richard Codey and Derm Player. Gonzo had to leave to attend another function. You can bet the Rutgers and Seton Hall coaches won’t be that cozy when the teams meet up again here at the RAC on Sunday at noon.
8:49 – Kabongo is at the line for St. Ben’s. He made two but it’s still a 56-36 Celtics rout. Strickland now has 16 for St. Pat’s. St. Ben’s went inside to the 6-8 Thompson early, but then stopped. AFter scoring nine points in the first four minutes of the game, he has one since.8:43 – It’s now 50-27 St. Pat’s and the rout is on. Strickland hit a 3 from the right wing to make it 48-25 ST. Pat’s early in the second half.
8:29- I’m stunned that this game is a blowout, but it is. St. Pat’s is up 45-25 at the break. The Celtics just closed the half on a 16-4 spurt, getting a bunch of runouts and uncontested layups. St. Ben’s looks disinterested and nobody but Thompson is scoring. Irving is the Player of the Game so far with 15 points for the Celts. Strickland has nine.8:21 – Kevin Boyle Jr. drained a 3-pointer from the right wing, right in front of the Rutgers’ staff, and the Celtics are up 38-21. Is this really a rout?
8:19 – Derrick Gordon just hit two foul shots and St. Pat’s is up 32-21 in what is looking like a potential blowout unless the undefeated Gray Bees wake up
8:11 – St. Pat’s led by 10 points t 27-17 thanks to a 9-0 run but Kabongo just scored inside for St. Ben’s and it’s now 27-19
8:04 – St. Pat’s leads 21-17 after one quarter. Irving has 10 for the Celtics. Thompson leads St. Ben’s with 12
8:00 – ST. Ben’s guard Tamir Jackson just drained a 3 from the left wing for the Gray Bees and St. Pat’s leads 18-15
7:56 p.m. – St. Pat’s is up 16-12 on a 3-pointer from UNC-bound guard Dexter Strickland. Texas commit Tristan Thompson has nine of St. Ben’s points. Kyrie Irving looks great and has six for the Celtics.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.