Hot-shooting Archbishop Carroll takes AAA title

March 21, 2009 7:49:13 PM PDT
With about 40 seconds left in the game and their team up 25, Archbishop Carroll's fans arose from a slumber and began partying in the Bryce Jordan Center stands. They could have started celebrating much earlier in the evening.

Kasheef Festus' 18 points led four players in double-figures scoring as the Patriots (27-3) proved too strong and too fast for upstart Greensburg Salem in a 75-54 win Friday to take the PIAA Class AAA title.

Up by a dozen points at the half, Archbishop Carroll players outscored their opponents 20-9 in the third quarter and went up by as much as 27 early in the fourth.

More than enough time for both teams to empty their benches with plenty of time left on the clock.

"This is a feeling I've never felt before in my life. I really can't explain it," Festus said.

He wasn't about to admit the game was easy, though, despite the final score. Greensburg Salem was only down 16-14 at the end of the first quarter.

"It was a lot of work and we just had to work hard and keep working hard because we didn't want any letdowns," the senior forward said.

Greensburg Salem (23-6) was a surprise finalist out of the West, especially after having lost in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

But they got to the title game in State College in large part behind clutch shooting from Chris Klimchock in the PIAA playoffs. The senior guard had 16 points for the Golden Lions on Friday night before fouling out, while Jake Matthews scored 22.

A rousing cheering section didn't let them down, even in defeat. They were often louder and more vocal than the bright red and white-clad Archbishop Carroll fans who traveled all the way from Radnor to back the winners from District 12.

A parade in Greensburg before the team left for State College drew hundreds of people, Golden Lions coach Paul Sapotichne said, and five buses brought Golden Lions fans north to watch the title game.

"What they have done to our community, galvanizing the entire community is unbelievable," he said. "They've accomplished something that no team in Greensburg Salem history has ever come close to accomplishing."

In the end, though, it was Archbishop Carroll that carried home the winners' trophy. Greensburg Salem hustled until the end, though the Patriots were just too long and athletic for the Golden Lions. They looked even more impressive in person than they did on film, Sapotichne said.

"We had a matchup problem at almost every position," he said outside his team's quiet locker room. "We would have had to play much better and our streak just kind of ran out."

D.J. Irvinig scored 17 points for Archbishop Carroll, Juan'ya Green had 16 and Andre Wilburn added 12 and seven rebounds.

The boys started the weekend off with a title, and the girls finished it with a crown, too. Archbishop Carroll left the Jordan Center with a clean sweep in the PIAA Class AAA basketball playoffs.

Erin Shields scored 13 points and her older sister, Kerri, added 12 to lead the hot-shooting Patriots in a 68-45 rout Saturday night of Lampeter-Strasburg to take the Class AAA title.

"That's a good basketball team," L-S coach Matt Wieand said. "All the hype they received was certainly well deserved." Katie Lynch had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Pioneers (29-4), who were hounded all night by Carroll's pesky perimeter players.

The Patriots (30-1) earned their first-place trophy, gold medals and postgame celebration, pointing fingers in the air as they jumped up and down on the court in a crowd after running off the bench.

The scene was reminiscent of the night after the Carroll boys won their title against Greensburg Salem, 75-54.

Fans in the student section on Saturday let out chants of "Two State titles" as the seconds ticked off the clock.

The Patriots title came in large part to 48 percent shooting (10-of-21) from behind the 3-point arc, with five different players hitting 3s. Kerri Shields scored all her points on four treys, while Erin had three.

Hollie Mershon also had 13 points for Carroll.

"What you saw tonight was kind of a microcosm of the season," Creighton said. "That wasn't a fluke. We shoot that well all the time. When we get going, we can make shots like that."

The Patriots took the lead for good at 7:29 in the first quarter. The 3-pointers helped Carroll turn an 11-point advantage in the first quarter into a 45-19 lead by halftime.

Although Carroll was outscored in the second half 26-23, L-S couldn't dig out from its first-half hole.

The Patriots held their opponent to only four points in the second period, all by Renee Fritz, who finished with 9 points on the night.

"In the end, it was just a little too much hot shooting from Carroll," Wieand said. "Right now, (the girls are) hurting. I think theyll get the big picture in time."

As the Carroll starters walked off the court with just over three minutes, they were greeted by teammates and coaches with a train of hugs and pats on the back.

However, the baskets still kept coming - Carroll got 22 points from its bench.

"It hurts to lose today, but how many teams get to play in a situation for a silver medal," Wieand said. "We didnt beat ourselves. We lost to an outstanding basketball team in Carroll."

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