Aflakpui helps Carroll paint a masterpiece

Posted: January 29, 2014

ERNEST AFLAKPUI was in prime viewing position yesterday during Archbishop Carroll's best stretch against host Archbishop Wood.

As 6-6 junior forward Derrick Jones and the Patriots sprang for 54 second-half points en route to an 83-52 victory, Aflakpui was parked on the bench with the referee blues.

A 6-9 junior center, Aflakpui hides from whistles the way skyscrapers hide from skylines. And that includes logging court time with Wood's 6-7, 285-pound building Joe LoStracco.

Aflakpui's 15 points and seven rebounds didn't make LoStracco look small by any stretch, but he certainly commanded the paint with aplomb in the first half.

However, most interesting about Aflakpui, a native of Ghana, is the gentle pastime that eases his mind.

"I [do] art sometimes in my spare time," Aflakpui said postgame. "I don't actually practice a lot, but I just visualize stuff and then convert it down on paper, either draw on paper or paint."

So, what's his favorite masterpiece?

"I couldn't tell, because I think everything I ever drew was perfected," he offered, grinning. "Not just because it was me drawing it, but it would just be very hard for me to point out one specific."

His most recent work, he said, was an angel floating in the air flapping its wings. Its significance was unknown, but the act itself is important.

"It makes me express how I feel, because I'm the artist, and I know what I want," he said. "There's no one telling me to do this or do that, so it makes me feel like I can express what I feel into the art."

When he immigrated to the United States in 2012, Aflakpui was filled with trepidation, but he said the family he lives with (Jennifer and Sean Finnegan) and the Carroll coaching staff made him feel "at home."

He lives in Collegeville with the Finnegans, whose son Patrick went to Carroll and is now a student at Temple.

Aflakpui's on-court family was stellar in last night's final 16 minutes. After a 29-all tie at the half, the Patriots (15-2, 7-1) used 13-3 and 12-3 runs to seize control. Another 12-3 spurt to start the fourth broke the game open.

"We've been such a good defensive team," Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. "I thought we needed to get back to that."

Wood turnovers led to run-outs for the slender and springy Jones, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. The lithe lefty's most spectacular two came off an alley-oop he laid off glass as he was fouled by LoStracco.

A cleaner two-handed flush came in the third after Austin Tilghman (14 points, nine boards) nabbed a one-handed steal and one-touched the ball to Jones.

The game was played in Wood's girls' gym because of a scheduling conflict.

LoStracco finished with 11 points, while Pat Smith (10 points) was the other in double figures for the Vikings (9-8, 6-3).

The Patriots' win sets up tomorrow's rematch with Roman Catholic (14-3, 8-0), which bested Carroll, 54-46, earlier this month. Carroll will host Part 2 at 7 p.m.

For Aflakpui, whose size, strength and touch has college coaches clamoring, a chance at college is front and center in his mind, but winning isn't bad, either.

"I have fun with the whole team, because I think we have something special going on," he said. "Everybody is comfortable with each other, and we work hard and learn from each other. That's one thing that's great about Carroll basketball."

Aflakpui talks to family back home in Ghana when he can. Texting helps, as does Skype. As for choosing a college, there's time for that.

"An education first and foremost," he said. "And a basketball team that will teach me to be a better person on and off the court and in the classroom, too."

Note

Jules Mastbaum Tech led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter against visiting World Communications when a pipe burst. Public League basketball chairmen Ben Dubin will find out from the PIAA whether the game can be considered complete.


On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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