Custis relishes redemption as N-G tops Roman for CL title

Posted: February 27, 2014

IMAGINE you're a high school senior with a chance at redemption, retribution and a record, all in 1 night. Would you seize it or let it slip through your fingers?

Ss. Neumann-Goretti forward Jamal Custis was faced with that scenario in Monday's Catholic League title game against Roman Catholic, but the problem was, he had only nine healthy digits.

Custis is a 6-6 senior headed to Syracuse as a wide receiver, but he's been without one of his key moneymakers since he tore a ligament in his right pinkie in January.

In fact, Custis went scoreless when the Cahillites handed the Saints only their second regular-season defeat in six seasons (71-64, Jan. 23).

"I kind of struggled and my points dropped," Custis said. "So I felt like I owed Roman. I didn't really play well against them last game."

After 12 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots in the Saints' 53-48 title clincher, Custis had a clean sweep in the 3-R department.

"It feels amazing," he said after the game. "Coming into this season, our coach told us seniors we could make history this year. Coming into this season, we were playing OK, but when we lost [to Roman], people started doubting us. We lost to them the game before . . . so winning this game is very special. It's basically revenge, and we made history."

N-G's sixth consecutive CL title tied a record previously owned by Roman from 1989-94. Head coach Carl Arrigale also now shares a league-best 10 career coaching titles with former Roman head man Dennis Seddon.

The Saints amassed a 100-2 record during this run of dominance, according to (Roman was 96-6 from '89-'94). Arrigale said he was unaware of the mark until he was informed by longtime former assistant John Mosco, who was at the finale and is now the head Viking in charge at Archbishop Wood.

"I definitely wanted that round number," a smiling Arrigale said. "That's a run that, it's probably safe to say, will never be duplicated."

As for Custis, he scored the game's first six points with twin two-handed stuffs and one transition layup off an assist from Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble. Later, Custis two-fisted another dunk that gave the Saints a 46-37 fourth-quarter advantage.

He said his finger has gotten healthier with time (he sat out two CL games), but all three throw-downs registered mild in the power department.

"Yeah, they were gentle," he said with a smile. "If I didn't have the finger [injury], I probably would have been hanging on the rim."

High school notes

Of the 23 undefeated Catholic League teams since 1942, Roman became the 13th to miss out on the title . . . Ja'Quan Newton became the first player in CL history to start for four consecutive champions . . . In football, Archbishop Wood junior linebacker Jake Cooper has committed to Penn State and senior defensive lineman Chris Gary has chosen Bloomsburg. In basketball, Bishop McDevitt senior forward Tyrell Long is going to West Chester.

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN