Roman's two stars get help in win over La Salle

AARON CARTER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Tony Carr (left) and TreVaughn Wilkerson were among the players who supplemented the efforts of Roman stars Rashaan London and Shep Garner.
AARON CARTER / DAILY NEWS STAFF Tony Carr (left) and TreVaughn Wilkerson were among the players who supplemented the efforts of Roman stars Rashaan London and Shep Garner.
Posted: January 12, 2014

LA SALLE head coach Joe Dempsey had a simple message for his team as his Explorers walked to the bench at the end of the third quarter.

"London and Garner, London and Garner, London and Garner," he bellowed.

That game plan was spot on, because Roman Catholic's Rashaan London and Shep Garner stay at the tips of tongues when anyone talks Cahillites hoops.

Yesterday was no different. The two Division I signees led Roman to an important, 61-47 home win, which sets up today's 2:30 p.m. meeting with Archbishop Carroll at Philadelphia University.

However, even when you focus on the two atop the totem, the "other guys" can still get you.

Sophomore Tony Carr and junior TreVaughn Wilkerson didn't exactly light the scoreboard, but they did fill the stat sheet for Roman (9-2, 3-0).

Carr, a 6-1 guard, finished with 10 points (3-for-6), added six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Wilkerson, a 6-6 forward, scored six points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished three assists and even fielded two college coaches from Quinnipiac and Northeast afterward.

"I think Rashaan and Shep are the leaders, by far," said the 16-year-old Carr. "I think 'Trey' and I have just as important roles. So, I think we all go into the game thinking we're just as important, and then just play for each other. And, I think that's how we come out on top."

London (Drexel) finished with 24 (11-for-17, two threes), including the slash that drew Dempsey's ire to end the third. Garner (Penn State) added 13 (seven in the first) on 5-for-9 shooting. The duo even scored Roman's first 16 points until Carr pulled a caper and dropped in two with 4:51 left - in the second quarter!

Dempsey's demands were well founded, but the Explorers (9-3, 1-2) just couldn't account for everyone.

"That's motivation toward me," Wilkerson said. "People don't respect us, so when they come on the court and play against us, they have another thing coming. There are other guys coming against every team we play, so it's not just Rashaan and Shep."

Wilkerson has battled ankle and groin injuries lately, but looked sprightly with a two-handed dunk courtesy of a Carr drive and dish.

"When I'm playing my best, usually I like to get my teammates involved," said Carr, who lives near 15th and York in North Philadelphia.

His older brother is Khalief Tinley, a 6-0 junior guard at Imhotep. His younger brother is 6-year-old Derek, who tightroped the close confines at Roman as play went on in the first half.

The Explorers looked lost until a 7-2 push late in the second netted their first lead since 2-0. It was also their last lead. A London midrange two followed by a Wilkerson buzzer-beater from the left wing gave Roman a 22-19 lead at the break.

A swarming 2-1-2 pressure defense stifled La Salle to start the third and led to a 7-0 Roman burst from which the Explorers never recovered.

Junior forward David Krmpotich led La Salle with 14 (7-for-9) and eight boards. Scrappy junior guard Shawn Witherspoon added 11. The Explorers appeared a dangerous bunch, but without last year's senior stars, Amar Stukes (La Salle) and Steve Smith (Fairfield), 16 turnovers eventually spelled doom.

"You can't look over anybody in the Catholic League," Carr said. "We got in trouble overlooking Lansdale Catholic this week [a 78-74 Roman victory in overtime]. I think our mindset tonight was to take every game seriously here on in. We can't take anybody for granted."

Not a problem today. Carroll is as deep and talented as they come.

And, with all those athletes, the Patriots could give London and Garner fits, which will make Carr and Wilkerson important again. But, hey, it never hurts if your stars shine bright.

The pair authored back-to-back fastbreak dunks (Garner one-handed, London two) in the fourth that punctuated the victory.

"I think it gives us confidence and lets us know it's time to go," Carr said with a smile. "We kind of go as they go, so when they start going early it's a great sign for our game!"

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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