Bolger's play is key for Constitution

Posted: March 25, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Savon Goodman and Daiquan Walker received most of the ink, and deservedly so, for Constitution's run to the PIAA Class A boys' basketball title.

But Tamir Bolger's contributions, especially when it came to being an in your-face-defender, could not be overlooked.

On Friday at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center, the 5-foot-6, 140-pound senior provided seven steals, five assists and five rebounds as the Generals sprinted past District 7's Lincoln Park Charter, 68-49, for the program's first state championship.

Of his constant defensive intensity, Bolger said: "That's what I like to do. I don't want the other team's guards to feel comfortable bringing the ball up the court. I try to make it real hard for them."

After spending his first year of high school at Kensington, Bolger switched to Constitution. "Tamir has been a pit bull on defense for us for three years," Generals coach Rob Moore said.

At the end of the third quarter, off an inbounds play, Bolger drilled a three-pointer (his only points of the afternoon) to put the Generals in front, 50-33, going into the final eight minutes.

"He's an undersized guard," said Goodman, who netted 27 points and 10 rebounds (all on offense). "People, sometimes, look at him at the start of the game and laugh. But you're not laughing when he's still guarding you close in the fourth quarter."

Against the Leopards, Goodman and Walker (22) combined for 49 points. Bolger, a 17-year-old from West Oak Lane, posted four of his five assists after intermission.

"Tamir bought into playing defense and distributing the ball," Goodman said. "He put his ego aside for the team. I really respect him for that."

Bolger said he is thinking of majoring in sports management in college. Should he one day fulfill his goal of becoming an agent, Goodman and Walker, both top-tier Division I recruits, would be possible clients.

"That would be pretty cool," Bolger said. "I think, with what we've accomplished here, there'd be a good chance I could get them to join me."

Saints survive. Neumann-Goretti's third consecutive Class AAA crown wasn't clinched until Montour's Kevin Scuilli missed a left-corner trey in the closing seconds.

Despite shooting a miserable 14 for 30 from the free-throw line, the Saints held off the Spartans, of suburban Pittsburgh, 48-45, Friday night.

Neumann-Goretti, which trailed by 15-5 late in the first quarter, never led by more than seven points. Forwards Derrick Stewart and John Davis went scoreless in the first half.

"It's a lot of pressure on the guys, and they handled it well," Saints coach Carl Arrigale said. "For that, I'm really proud of them."

Billy Shank recorded the team's first 10 points, including a pair of treys. Ja'Quan Newton finished with 17 points, including a breakaway dunk that put the Saints in front, 37-32, in the third quarter.

Davis managed 11 points, including a big three-point play in the fourth quarter, and eight boards (three on offense). The Rider-bound Stewart, held to two markers, grabbed 11 boards.

"I'm proud of the guys and happy for them," Arrigale said. "Right now, it's a sense of relief. Winning never gets old. It's the kind of thing that drives us."

Looking ahead. Here's our early preseason top 10 for 2012-13 in Southeastern Pennsylvania, with this year's final record in parentheses:

1. Neumann-Goretti (28-3). Ja'Quan Newton and John Davis are terrific cornerstones.

2. Chester (32-0). Three starters, including Rondae Jefferson, are back.

3. Lower Merion (29-4). Five of the top seven return for Gregg Downer's Aces.

4. Roman Catholic (17-10). All of the Cahillites, including Shep Garner, return.

5. Germantown Academy (20-10). This year's squad was paced by four juniors.

6. St. Joseph's Prep (21-6). Steve Vasturia and Miles Overton spark the Hawks.

7. Math, Civics & Sciences (19-10). Jeremiah Worthem and Basil Thompson are forces.

8. Friends' Central (22-5). Conrad Chambers heads a strong backcourt rotation.

9. Imhotep Charter (22-8). The Panthers will build around 6-6 guard Brandon Austin.

10. Archbishop Carroll (20-8). Yosef Yacob is joined by rising forward Derrick Jones.

Under consideration, listed alphabetically: Abington (20-8), Archbishop Wood (14-9), La Salle (11-13), Penn Wood (16-9), Plymouth Whitemarsh (13-12), Westtown (21-10).

Recognition. The Markward Basketball Club selected Boys' Latin's Maurice Watson and Prep Charter's Kahleah Copper as its boys' and girls' players of the year, respectively.

Watson (Public), St. Joe's Prep's Gene Williams (Catholic), and Malvern Prep's Brendan Kilpatrick (Inter-Ac) earned boys' league honors.

Copper (Public), Archbishop Carroll's Meghan Creighton (Catholic), and Council Rock South's Alex Wheatley (Suburban One) were the girls' selections.

Tap-ins. After Constitution's win over Lincoln Park, Goodman listed Missouri, Kansas, Memphis, Temple, and UCLA among his college possibilities. Walker's list included Seton Hall, Central Florida, Temple, Virginia, Providence, and Connecticut. . . . In Saturday night's Class AAAA final, Chester closed its 59-33 win over Lower Merion with a 17-2 run. Overall, the Aces, who committed 29 turnovers, shot 11 for 37 from the field (2 for 10 on treys). . . . Three Philly-area referees worked the Lower Merion-Chester game: Don Cummiskey, Dan Moretski, and Earl Johnson. They were recommended by their respective chapters. . . . Imhotep coach Andre Noble said senior wing guard Khyree Wooten (15 points, seven boards in Saturday's Class AA triumph over Beaver Falls) is considering a number of colleges, including Division II Lock Haven.


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com

or on Twitter @ozoneinq

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