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.
UNLV-bound Josh Pierre-Louis, UK commit Kahlil Whitney eyeing 2nd straight New Jersey state title
By ADAM ZAGORIAROSELLE, N.J. — Within the span of a few minutes Tuesday night, UNLV-bound point guard Josh Pierre-Louis displayed the full range of his offensive talents. He drained a 3-pointer from the right wing and then mocked shooting a bow and arrow. Moments later, he elevated for a thunderous one-handed dunk that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd at Roselle Catholic High School.
“That was regular, that’s my signature dunk,” he said matter-of-factly. “Just a cockback.”
Playing in the final game in his high school gym, Pierre-Louis went for 17 points and 6 assists as top-seeded Roselle Catholic knocked off No. 5 Hudson Catholic 66-54 in the New Jersey North Non-Public B semifinals. Kentucky-bound wing Kahlil Whitney, also playing his final home game, added 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals, and junior big man Cliff Omoruyi had 15 points and 8 rebounds, including a slew of monstrous two-handed dunks.
Big man Curtis Foucher and Justin Glover led Hudson Catholic with 14 points apiece, while Shane Dezonie added 12.
For the second straight year, Roselle Catholic (27-3) will meet Gill St. Bernard’s (26-4) in the sectional final after Rutgers-bound point guard Paul Mulcahy and Gill beet Montclair Immaculate 75-57 on Monday night. The game will tip at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Franklin High School.
Top-seeded Bergen Catholic will face No. 2 St. Joseph in the North Non-Public A final in the first half of the doubleheader at 6 p.m.
Pierre-Louis, Whitney and fellow senior Colby Rogers are now one win from a second straight sectional title, two wins from back-to-back Non-Public B crowns and four wins from capturing consecutive Tournament of Champions titles. The last team to do that was Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony’s clubs of 2011-12.
“It’s always good to be back in this place,” Pierre-Louis said. “It’s my last year and I want to go out with a bang. Naz [Reid] went out with a bang, Zay [Briscoe] went out with a bang, I want to be one of those guys that goes out with a bang, so it’s always a good time of the year.”
Reid, now a freshman at LSU, won the TOC last year as Roselle Catholic’s lead dog, while Briscoe won the TOC at the school in 2015.
Whitney can become the fourth Kentucky commit since 2014 to win the New Jersey TOC following Karl-Anthony Towns (St. Joe’s-Metuchen), Briscoe and Nick Richards (The Patrick School).
Whitney said he heard from Calipari on Monday, and planned to DVR Kentucky’s game with Ole Miss on Tuesday night so he could watch it after his own game.
“He asked me how my season was going, can’t wait to get me on campus, stuff like that,” Whitney said.
Gill St. Bernard’s will present a unique test for the Lions, and they’re also coming in with an extra day’s rest, having played on Monday night, while Roselle Catholic was snowed out on Monday.
“Besides Montverde, I think Gill was the toughest game we played this year,” Whitney said. “They’re very disciplined and set screens and are very disciplined on defense. They’re very fundamental, pump-faking, getting to the free throw line so it will definitely be a tough game [Wednesday].”
Whitney, who plans to sign his NLI with Kentucky in May at his grammar school in Chicago, knows he’s close to accomplishing something rare in New Jersey basketball history.
“We’re locking in on one game at a time, that’s how we got this far,” he said. “Taking it one game at a time, and trusting each other, and I feel as long as we keep doing that it will get us to where we want to be.”
Photos: Mustafa Hooten / D1 Media Pro
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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.