"This is a group who I feel is coming together," Rodio said of the Hermits, who won their 11th consecutive game. "I said I wanted to see what we would do in an overtime and see if we could dig deep down and see what we are made of."
Rodio didn't make that request at the start of the fourth quarter. By then, he was hoping for the same type of win that Middle experienced over the Hermits, 67-47, on Dec. 18. He was hoping it would come sometime, and Friday was the moment.
So Rodio, who has won 771 games in a career that shows no signs of slowing down, learned something new about his team.
"I learned this is a tough group," he said.
The opponent was tough, too.
The Panthers fought and clawed and finally tied the score at 56 on a pull-up three-pointer by Darrell Shelton with 9.3 seconds left in regulation.
When the Hermits missed a runner at the buzzer, four more minutes were guaranteed.
The teams played as close as their rankings. Ranked No. 5 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, St. Augustine is 13-1. No. 4 Middle Township is 11-3.
To make a game out of it when the Panthers appeared buried is another reason fellow Group 2 teams won't relish facing Middle Township in the postseason.
"Nothing surprises me about this team," coach Tom Feraco said. "They are undersized, not the most athletic group, just tough and determined."
The Hermits were led by Sullivan, who in addition to scoring 20 points, had the toughest defensive assignment. That would be Shelton, who despite the big trey, was held to 11 points after scoring 23 in the first game between the teams.
Middle Township 17 10 5 24 5 – 61
St. Augustine 17 11 18 10 7 – 63
MT: Jake Cowan 6, Darrell Shelton 10, Tom Cantanoso 16, Tom Feraco 27, Micah Moore 2.
SA: Mike Greenman 13, Dave Sullivan 20, Blake Rossell 9, Joe Gatto 4, Brian Saward 7, Nate Segal 3, Mike Vasturia 7.
Contact Marc Narducci
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