Newton shines on way to 4th medal

Posted: February 26, 2014

After the final missed shot, Troy Harper tossed the ball high into the air and teammate Ja'Quan Newton raced toward the Neumann-Goretti supporting section behind the opposite basket.

The jubilation was warranted, as the Saints had just clinched their sixth consecutive Catholic League boys' basketball title with a 53-48 triumph over Roman Catholic Monday night before a packed and energized Palestra crowd.

Newton, a 6-foot-3 combination guard who will continue his career at Miami, scored a game-high 23 points in picking up his fourth straight gold medal.

"I know this is a legacy, and we had to keep it going," he said as the N-G players took turns at clipping down the net.

In capturing the first-place hardware again, N-G, which reversed a 71-64 loss to the Cahillites last month at Philadelphia University, equaled the six straight titles earned by Roman from 1989 to 1994.

Carl Arrigale, the squad 16th-year boss, was asked if the Saints deserved "dynasty" status.

"I try not to get caught up in things like that," Arrigale said earlier Monday. "That kind of stuff is for people and the media to talk about. We just try to keep going and try to help more kids each year. That's what it's all about."

In the final against Roman, Newton, determined to go 4 for 4 in finals at Penn's fabled arena, netted 15 of his 23 points after the break.

"I had to turn it up for my team, and that's what I did," the Catholic League's most valuable player said.

Down by 33-28 with 3 minutes to play in the third quarter, N-G closed the frame with an 8-0 burst.

Newton sparked Saints in the first half with nine points. Jamal Custis, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who will play football at Syracuse, produced their first six points of the night.

As usual, it was a guard-driven lineup that spurred N-G's drive to the Palestra. Newton, Harper, and Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble have combined for the bulk of the scoring.

Newton, who came into Monday's final averaging 21.4 points, is at his best in transition, as he showed against Roman. He an also score from the perimeter.

"He's been on a tear," Arrigale said. "He just plays like he knows it's the end of the line. He goes all-out each game."

Kimble, the squad's floor general, netted 17 points in last week's semifinal win over Archbishop Carroll. The junior has scholarship offers from Hofstra, Massachusetts, and Towson, among others.

"He's been real steady lately," Arrigale said. "He's a tough guy. And he's really improved defensively for us."

Harper, a wing guard who will join fellow senior Tony Toplyn at Campbell University, came in averaging 12 points per game.

Said Arrigale: "He might be our most consistent player. He's a kid who used to let bad plays get to him. He's really, really matured. He's a guy you can count on."

Handling much of the dirty work, the 6-6 Toplyn sometimes gets overlooked. "He sacrifices his body, relishes his role," Arrigale said. "With him back there, it allows us to be aggressive on defense.

Jamal Custis, another 6-6 senior forward who will play football at Syracuse, has been slowed recently by strained ligaments in his pinky finger.


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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