Holbrook comes up big for Roman

Posted: March 04, 2014

IMAGINE YOU just played one of your best games on one of the city's biggest stages only to take a backseat to the unruly actions of a disorderly few.

Gemil Holbrook earned MVP honors in Roman Catholic's 58-55 triumph against Martin Luther King in the Class AAAA city title game at Saint Joseph's University on Friday night. Holbrook scored 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting and was a dead-eye 4-for-4 from three.

However, two plastic bottles, thrown on the court on separate occasions and from different locations, followed a late-game foul call and caused two delays that totaled about 20 minutes while those in charge tried to maintain order.

"Yeah, it kind of got a little bit overshadowed," Holbrook said of his performance, "but to me, I feel good about it because now I have to keep playing at that rate because now [people] know what I can do."

What the 6-4 junior wing did was carry his team offensively for stretches. In fact, without Holbrook's 75 percent shooting overall, Roman's 16-for-49 night (32 percent) could have been far worse.

"That was one of [my] biggest games," said Holbrook, adding later, "I was shooting the ball with confidence. After I was shooting it, I was already thinking it was going in."

Big King contributions were also eclipsed by the finish. Senior wing Greg Bennett scored 17 points and fellow senior Jahmir Taylor (forward) added 13 more with 14 rebounds and seven blocks. Junior guard Sammy Foreman finished with 10 points, six boards, five assists and four steals, but also missed two foul shots (the second intentionally) with King trailing, 57-55, with 2.4 left.

As for Holbrook, his performance was just what the Darby resident and Penn Wood transfer needed while looking for a niche on a team filled with capable offensive weapons.

Rashann London (Drexel) also finished with 18 points (4-for-18, 9-for-10 free throws) and hit two huge free throws that gave the Cahillites a 56-55 lead with 21.2 seconds left. Shep Garner (Penn State) added eight points (2-for-8, 3-for-4) and six steals.

And with the emergence of junior forward Manny Taylor down low and the steady hand of sophomore point guard Tony Carr, sometimes Holbrook can go large chunks without opportunities.

"It's hard sometimes to get a rhythm," he said.

But don't get him wrong; Holbrook is happy in purple and gold. He also said he pondered attending Ss. Neumann-Goretti, but landed at Roman, in part, because, "It just felt like home." A better opportunity for playing time was also a factor, he said.

Recent injuries to forwards TreVaughn Wilkerson (junior) and Carnell McGirt (senior) have given Holbrook more responsibility to help London and Garner, Roman's top scorers on the season.

"Shep and 'Shann are really good players," he said. "Sometimes they get us going. They make me play harder . . . I just like the way they play, and they play well together. They're good teammates and they're good leaders."

Tasked with more of the scoring load during the Cahillites' upcoming PIAA playoff push, Holbrook now has a better idea of what he might face senior year.

"Yeah, I think I'm building a foundation for next year because it will be me and 'Tone' [Carr] holding it down next year with a couple other guards and big men that we have," he said. "We'll have a solid team next year. It'll be hard to beat us."

However, unfinished business remains.

"To me," he said holding his MVP plaque, "it means that I played well but now I have to keep on playing like [that] and reward myself with a ring in states instead of a plaque."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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