Neumann-Goretti overcomes struggles, Father Judge

Posted: January 18, 2012

Derrick Stewart and his Neumann-Goretti boys' basketball teammates did not enter Wednesday night's matchup at Father Judge expecting or wanting an all-out tussle.

But the Saints, fighting through a subpar defensive effort and overcoming a flurry of three-pointers, persevered and left Mayfair with a 68-57 victory.

"Sometimes it's good to have a struggle like that," said Stewart, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior. "It tells you how much harder you have to work the next time."

With a 5-for-12 effort from beyond the arc in the first half, the Crusaders took a 32-30 lead into intermission. They trailed by only two, 57-55, midway through the fourth quarter.

"It's always tough to win on the road in our league," Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said. "You let a team get comfortable in its own gym, you're going to be in for a dogfight."

Over the last four seasons, the Saints, who pulled away from Judge with a 9-1 run down the stretch, have won 59 straight Catholic League contests, including the regular season and playoffs.

"We don't really talk about that anymore," senior wing guard Billy Shank said. "We just take it game by game."

The Rider-bound Stewart netted only six points, but grabbed 14 rebounds, including four on offense; blocked five shots; and made two steals.

"I don't have to be the leading scorer," Stewart said. "Every player wants the ball, but this is a talented group with a lot of capable guys. I just want to be effective and a presence on the court."

Stewart made two free throws to give the Saints (11-2, 5-0) a 64-56 cushion with 1 minute, 56 seconds to play.

"He's been terrific for us," said Arrigale, whose squad is ranked No. 2 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer. "He anchors our defense. He's been rebounding real well lately."

Stewart, who helped lead the Saints to a 27-4 record and the PIAA Class AAA state title last season, will join his brother, Danny, at Rider. Danny Stewart likewise made a big impact in South Philly.

Against Judge, John Davis (18), Billy Shank (15), Ja'Quan Newton (15) and sixth man La'Quan Coaxum (12) were double-digit scorers.

Davis grabbed 12 rebounds; Shank, who had sprained his right ankle at the beginning of practice Tuesday, hit three treys; and Newton recorded six boards and three assists.

For the Crusaders, senior swingman Brian Hennessey scored 15 of his 17 points in the second quarter. Junior wing guard Steve Griffin totaled 20 points, five boards, four assists, and three steals.

Judge (10-4, 2-3) was 1 for 10 from beyond the arc in the second half. The comeback bid was also hurt by a 9-for-19 overall showing at the foul line.

Neumann-Goretti   13 17 23 15 – 68

Father Judge   11 21 17 8 – 57

NG: Hanif Sutton 2, Billy Shank 15, Derrick Stewart 6, John Davis 18, Ja'Quan Newton 15, La'Quan Coaxum 12.

FJ: Sean Hanna 4, Steve Griffin 20, Joe Robinson 8, Jeff Seigafuse 3, Brian Hennessey 17, Malik Robinson 3, Connor Donohoe 2.


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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