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.
Roselle Catholic Survives Against St. Anthony’s, Remains Best Team in State
BY JEREMY FUCHSROSELLE, N.J.– If Roselle Catholic is to live up to its billing as the best team in New Jersey, and perhaps even the best team in the country, it would always have to deal with St. Anthony’s.
On Friday night in Roselle, the Lions showed that they were up to the task, as they beat the Friars, 51-48.
“It was amazing, ” RC coach Dave Boff said after the game. “Our fans were great. The St. Anthony’s fans were great. To have a 2,000 [-seat] gym sold out an hour and a half before the game in the regular season is unbelievable. You play these games for that reason, to test yourself against good people.”
It was the second time in as many games that Roselle Catholic beat St. Anthony’s, the last time in last year’s Non-Public B Final.
RC’s star player, Kentucky-bound Isaiah Briscoe, scored 22 points, despite missing 12 free throws, including his last eight down the stretch.
“Just one of those nights,” Briscoe said about the struggles from the charity stripe. “We’re a good team, they’re a good team. It’s always gonna be a good game whenever a New Jersey powerhouse plays another New Jersey powerhouse.”
Briscoe took over the game in the second half, including hitting a tremendous cross-over, step-back, fadeaway three in the corner.
“Briscoe was the best player on the floor,” St. Anthony’s coach Bob Hurley said.
Roselle Catholic was also helped by the play of South Carolina-bound Chris Silva, who scored 13 points with his future coach Frank Martin looking on. After sitting out the second quarter due to foul trouble, Silva was tremendous in the third, scoring nine points in the period, and helped the Lions come back from a six point halftime deficit.
“Chris’ second half was really big,” Boff said. “We thought coming into the game we could score on them in the post. For him to come out, to score however many points he scored in the third, Chris was huge in the third quarter.”
Hurley agreed that Silva’s impact was noticeable.
“He’s such an energy guy,” Hurley said. “If you don’t account for him, he has a chance to get on the offensive boards. He’s also going after every shot.”
There is a burgeoning rivalry between the two schools, which started in earnest after Roselle Catholic upset St. Anthony in the 2012 Non-Public B Final. It would not be a shock if they met again in March.
“Coach Hurley and I were talking before the game how nice a rivalry this has turned into,” Boff said. “Hopefully we’ll see each other in the state tournament. It’s been great to spark up a rivalry with a program that’s had as much success as coach Hurley and St. Anthony’s. To be in that category and be fighting with them year in and year out is a great thing for us.”
It remains hard to imagine a team other than St. Anthony that will give Roselle Catholic this much trouble. RC is deep, and boasts a starting lineup of all Division I players, and won over the weekend against Gonzaga (MD) despite Briscoe, Silva and Pierre Sarr all fouling out.
“They’re better than us at this point,” Hurley said. “We faced an awfully good team in their building.”
St. Anthony was led by Wichita State-bound Markis McDuffie, who scored 14. Despite his efforts, Briscoe and Silva were simply too much.
“I think we’re the best team in the state,” Briscoe said. “I believe we’re the best team in the country. Only time will tell.”
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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.