La Salle avenges loss to Prep

Posted: February 17, 2014

After being embarrassed two weeks ago by archrival St. Joseph's Prep, Dave Krmpotich and La Salle had a score to settle in Saturday's Catholic League boys' basketball quarterfinal.

"Falling behind by so much early on and losing the way we did, it really sparked a fire in us," Krmpotich said. "There was no way we were going to let that happen again."

This time, the host Explorers, with terrific man-to-man defense late, reversed their previous woes against the Hawks with a 38-33 triumph.

"We changed our strategy," La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said. "We decided not to press them and just play them in half-court sets."

The Prep, which had jumped out to a 24-6 advantage in its 58-47 win over the Explorers, shot 11 for 45 from the field Saturday. The Hawks were 2 for 11 (0 for 5 in the first half) from beyond the arc.

After taking a 26-23 lead on Chris Clover's inside bucket late in the third quarter, the visitors went 9 minutes, 43 seconds without scoring. They went 10:45 without a field goal.

The Prep (16-7) was missing its top three-point threat. Senior guard Tom Fox, who suffered a sprained left anterior cruciate ligament last Sunday against Archbishop Wood, showed up on crutches.

"I don't want to make any excuses," Hawks coach Speedy Morris said of Fox's absence. "Give La Salle the credit. They did a great job defensively."

In a 7 p.m. semifinal Wednesday at the Palestra, the fourth-seeded Explorers (18-5) will face top-seeded Roman Catholic. The other semifinal, about 8:45, will pit Archbishop Carroll against five-time defending champ Neumann-Goretti.

Against the Prep, Krmpotich, a 6-foot-7, 170-pound junior forward with a scholarship offer from Lafayette, produced 16 points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots. He shot 4 for 7 from the field and 8 for 12 from the line.

Clover, the Hawks' junior catalyst, netted 17 points on 5-for-16 shooting. He was guarded down the stretch by Jalen Herdsman. Earlier, Sean Witherspoon and sub Sean Greenberg were assigned the task.

"We were basically playing help defense on him, especially when he tried to drive," Krmpotich said. "We couldn't let him have a big game."

Trailing by 24-19 midway through the third period, La Salle led, 32-26, with 11/2 minutes to play. The Explorers went 16 for 26 from the line; the Prep was 7 for 9.

The Prep's Ricky Slusarczyk, a 6-3 center who collected eight boards, fouled out with 1:34 remaining.

St. Joseph's Prep 12 8 6 7 - 33

La Salle 13 6 7 12 - 38

SJP: Alex Stewart 3, Kyle Thompson 7, Ricky Slusarczyk 2, Ryan Wall 4, Chris Clover 17.

L: Najee Walls 9, Dave Krmpotich 16, Jalen Herdsman 5, Sean Weatherspoon 3, Sean Greenberg 2, Dan Corr 3.


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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