Tom Zamonski (@tomzamonski)
La Salle vs. Roselle Catholic (N.J.)
Battling one of the top squads from New Jersey, Amar Stukes and the upset-minded Explorers nearly knocked off Roselle Catholic but fell short, 53-49.
“Roselle is the third-ranked team in New Jersey,” La Salle coach Joe Dempsey told reporters. “They have a ton of talent. They have a kid that is going to Syracuse (senior Tyler Roberson) and another who has an offer from Indiana (sophomore Malachi Richardson).”
As the announcer reminded the crowd numerous times, Roberson was headed to north to Central New York to play for Jim Boeheim; the expectation was the 6-8 forward would be the marquee name to watch.
Even though Roberson led Roselle with a team-high 17, it was La Salle’s Stukes who stole the headlines.
“I mean, that was inspirational,” Dempsey said of Stukes’ performance.
Stukes played the star role, netting a game-high 29 points while being named the teams’ MVP for the contest.
“He plays the right way, he is unselfish,” Dempsey said. “If I told him tonight he couldn’t score tonight and had to pass he would have been perfectly happy with that. He doesn’t care who scores he just wants to get a W.”
Stukes, a 6-2 guard, will be playing Division I ball following his senior year. He will continue his career as an Explorer where he will play for Dr. John Giannini at La Salle University, who was in attendance for the game.
Steve Smith, a recruit headed to Fairfield next season, assisted Stukes in almost pulling of the upset against Roselle. The 6-8 forward scored 12 points for the Explorers, all which were on treys.
“He’s got a lions’ heart and he wants to win so badly,” Dempsey said of his forward. “Obviously he can shoot the ball a little bit and he is a great kid. We are fortunate to have both of those guys.”
Richardson is one of the top players in the 2015 class as he currently has offers from Cincinnati, Miami, Rutgers, Seton Hall, and James Madison. The 6-6 sophomore from Trenton, who was sporting a pair of socks reading “I heart haters” during the game, contributed 14 points for Roselle.
Next up for La Salle in the Nelson Classic is Wissahickon on Saturday, 8:00 at Philadelphia University.
Game Two: Chester vs. Abington
After struggling in the City of Palms Classic in which the Clippers snapped a 61-game winning streak, Chester looked to get back the familiar taste of victory against Abington.
“We just came back wanting to win,” Chester’s Rondae Jefferson said. “We wanted to change it around.”
The Clippers were able to get back to winning form as they dismantled Abington 74-38. Chester’s Richard Granberry scored a team-high 14 and Darius Robinson chipped in 13 for the Clippers.
Jefferson, who is considered the top player in Pennsylvania by ESPN, dished in nine points for Chester while playing just a few minutes into the second half. The Arizona recruit was happy to be home from Fort Myers, Fl.
“It was a different type of ball game,” Jefferson said of the City of Palms Classic. “We were playing against the top players in the country. The competition was harder. You have to bring your ‘A’ game every time you are on the floor.”
Jefferson, a lefty, was wearing a white bandage around his left thumb during the game.
“I can’t bend my joint so I don’t know what is going on,” Jefferson said, “so I just have to get an x-ray.”
Jefferson seemed not to be too concerned with the injury.
For Abington, it was Anthony Durham who led the Ghosts in scoring. The senior finished with 11 despite being held scoreless in the first half. Durham currently has offers from Division 1 schools St. Bonaventure, Hofstra, New Hampshire, and others.
Chester will take on Providence-bound guard Brandon Austin and Imhotep Charter tomorrow at 8:30. The game is considered to be one of the most highly-touted contests in the Nelson Classic.
Jefferson for his team to win they must play like the team for who showed up tonight’s matchup, not the one in Florida.
“We have to bring the same intensity,” Jefferson said, “and be ready to play defense to get that W.”