Fighting off a slow start and a raucous, green-clad crowd, the Neumann-Goretti defense settled into a near-impenetrable groove in the second quarter. The Saints forced eight turnovers, challenged every shot, and turned a seven-point deficit into a 10-point lead by the time they jogged into the locker room.
"At the break, we knew they were going to come out fighting and they weren't going to roll over," said senior forward John Davis, a Towson recruit who scored 10 points in his final game as a Saint. "We can't let up there, and we did."
Donegal's Martin Dietrich scored a quick five points in the third period, and despite Neumann-Goretti's suffocating defense, many of Donegal's late-possession shots that weren't falling in the second quarter started finding the net in the third.
"To their credit, they kept coming," Arrigale said. "In front of their fans who traveled like that, they weren't about to quit on us. And we just didn't hit our shots."
Junior guard Ja'Quan Newton, Neumann-Goretti's leading scorer with 16 points, missed 6 of 12 free throws, including one that would have cut the deficit to a point with 14 seconds to play.
Donegal hit 8 of its 9 attempts from the line in the fourth to halt the Saints' three-year reign as champs.
"We've been so successful here. This one really hurts," Davis said. "But that's what you get when you win the way we do: Every game we play is some other team's championship."
Neumann-Goretti 9 19 9 13 – 50
Donegal 12 6 20 17 – 55
NG: Tony Toplyn 6, Troy Harper 8, Lamarr Kimble 8, John Davis 10, Jamal Custis 2, Ja'Quan Newton 16.
D: Jason Dietrich 7, Chris Robinson 1, Dylan Houseal 2, Martin Dietrich 18, Matt Foltz 19, Michael Banwell 2, Tommy Hatt 6.
Contact Ben Goldberg-Morse at firstname.lastname@example.org.