Roman edges M.L. King for title

Roman Catholic's Paul Newman is fouled by Martin Luther King's Greg Bennett in the second quarter of the title game.
Roman Catholic's Paul Newman is fouled by Martin Luther King's Greg Bennett in the second quarter of the title game. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 02, 2014

Jabri McCall, Martin Luther King's steady hand, turned the ball over as he prepared to signal for a timeout. Just 30 seconds were left, and King was clinging to a one-point lead, and Roman Catholic's Rashann London drove for what looked to be an easy layup.

But seemingly out of nowhere, King's Chase Rodgers sprinted down the court and blocked the shot just in time. The Cougars crowd erupted until their celebration proved premature. The referee awarded Roman two free throws - which enabled them to take the lead and go on to win, 58-55,Friday night in the District 12 Class AAAA final - and the crowd at St. Joseph's University's Hagan Arena came undone.

A fan threw a water bottle onto the court, causing a brief stoppage. Roman called timeout, and three male fans behind its bench had to be ejected. London still needed to make his second free throw, which he did.

King's ensuing inbound pass went out of bounds, and Roman coach Chris McNesby called another timeout. During the break, a fan launched a bottle of iced tea from the balcony, and the game stopped once more with 17.5 seconds left.

District 12 executive director Robert Coleman warned the crowd that the game would be stopped if there was another disturbance. He asked the fans to move away from the court or the game would be finished without fans.

The officials gathered with security guards and representatives from St. Joseph's, as Philadelphia police officers filled the corners of the gym. Coleman went back on the microphone and reminded the fans that both teams were bound for the state tournament.

"We're family," he said.

Roman made its first free throw to take a two-point lead before missing the next chance. King hauled in the rebound, pushed the ball down court in a frantic pace, but missed the shot. Sammy Foreman, King's captain, recovered the rebound and drove for a layup. He was fouled, and King had a chance at some sweet redemption.

But Foreman missed both free throws. Roman hauled in the rebound and was fouled. Manny Taylor made one of his two foul shots, and King's last-second three-pointshot missed. The game ended without further incident, the teams shook hands, and Gemil Holbrook earned MVP honors.

Earlier, Holbrook hit a three-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer. He bounced on his toes with his right hand extended as he watched his shot give the Cahillites a one-point lead.

McCall started the fourth quarter on the King bench with a cramp in his leg. The sophomore guard lay on his stomach with his hands at his eyes as the trainer rubbed his calf.

Instead of folding, King rallied and took a one-point lead on Greg Bennett's free throws. But the lead changed hands again as Roman scored four straight points. McCall reentered and was soon sent to the floor by an elbow to the face.

Martin Luther King 18 9 12 16 - 55

Roman Catholic 18 12 11 17 - 58

MLK: Greg Bennett 17, Sammy Foreman 10, Xavier Malone 3, Jabri McCall 8, Chase Rodgers 4, Jahmir Taylor 13.

RC: Tony Carr 6, Shep Garner 8, Gemil Holbrook 18, Rashann London 18, Paul Newman 5, Manny Taylor 3.


mbreen@phillynews.com

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