Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The 3-pointers fell early and often for Roman Catholic, who hit seven threes in the first quarter on their way to a 71-21 rout of Roxborough on their home court Wednesday afternoon.
The Cahillites, like a few other teams in the Catholic League, have an extremely talented backcourt featuring senior sharpshooter Matt Simon (nine points), junior combo guards Rashann London (15 points) and Shep Garner (10 points) and sophomore stud Traci Carter (10 points), all of whom hit at least two 3-pointers in the contest.
Even more impressive was the fact that almost every basket for Roman Catholic came off a good pass from a teammate; 19 of their 25 buckets came off assists, including on all but one of their long-distance shots.
“That’s the whole ball of wax for us, that’s exactly what we have to do with the guards that we have,” Roman Catholic coach Chris McNesby told CoBL afterwards. “That’s important that we continue to stay unselfish, making the right decision. Sometimes in games where the opponent’s getting after us a little bit more, it’s a little harder for the kids to see those passing lanes.”
This was the first game in Philadelphia this season for Roman Catholic (2-2), who played their first three games down in Washington, D.C. in the extremely competitive Gonzaga (D.C.) Classic.
“Great experience for us, that’s why we do the trip, get us ready for our league,” McNesby said. “We’re a young team, I think we’ll go through some growing pains. Our first game there looked like our first game, so that had its ups and downs. I think we got better as the weekend went on…by the time it was the third game I felt real good about going home.”
The Cahillites are indeed young, starting two juniors and three sophomores, though they have plenty of talent. Garner, a 6-3 combo, holds a number of D-I scholarships, and McNesby told CoBL that “Penn State, St. Joe’s and Rutgers” were the leaders.
“I know he’s comfortable with all the schools, he likes all the coaches,” the coach said about that trio. “He’s a good kid. I think he’ll end up somewhere good, he just wants to play out the season and maybe spring he’ll look to settle in.”
The other member of the backcourt who’s already garnered a D-I offer is London, who holds a scholarship from St. Francis (Pa.) but is nowhere near ready to even begin thinking about where he’ll be going to school in 2014-15.
“He’s kind of a guy who’s been getting better and better each year, so it’s hard to really tell which level he’ll be,” McNesby said. “His progress has really catapulted his recruitment…no one really knows where he’ll fit but he’s getting some attention.”
Carter, the only sophomore in the backcourt–forwards TreVaughn Wilkerson and Manny Taylor are both also sophomores–had five assists, looking much more like his upperclassman teammates than someone who didn’t see the court last year, when he attended Prep Charter.
“South Philly kid, gutsy, he wants the ball in his hands. We just gotta teach him how to be a little more cerebral, play as a point guard, make good decisions,” McNesby said. “He’s fearless, but we just gotta teach him how to play–and he’s been coachable, he’s willing to learn, it’s been a pleasure to coach him. We’ll get there, it’s just gonna take time.
Wilkerson, a super-athletic 6-7 forward who like Carter is certain to end up going Division I but is too early along in his development to get into his recruiting, is already making big strides in his overall game. The biggest reaction from the crowd all day was in the third quarter, when he had back-to-back put-back dunks, the second of which he put back with one hand on a very impressive jam.
“Some of the things he did today, he wasn’t doing two weeks ago,” McNesby said. “I think now he’s starting to ‘Wow, I can really do this.’ He’s going to the basket hard–he’s not just waiting to get the ball thrown to him, he’s going to get the ball–and that’s always fun to see young guys the lightbulb kinda go off.”
Roman Catholic plays again on Friday, when they travel to Reading to take on Berks Catholic at Albright College at 6:30 p.m.