After losing two previous matchups against Neumann-Goretti by a combined 44 points, Philadelphia Electrical did all it could to win the third time, but the Saints battled through a tough first half then turned a four-point lead at the break into a 65-53 win in a Class AAA state semifinal Tuesday night at Southern.
Neumann-Goretti will play Susquehanna Township for the Class AAA state championship Friday at 8 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey. Susquehanna Township beat Central Valley, 42-31, Tuesday night.
"I never played in nothing like that before," Newton said. "That physicality and just going out and doing the things he was doing. Before the tip of the ball, someone came over and bumped me. We didn't even tip the ball. It took me a little while to get used to it.
"I wasn't going to let it frustrate me. I was going to keep playing."
Newton entered the game five points shy of the Catholic League scoring record. He passed the mark with a layup in the second quarter and finished the game with 21 points, including eight in the fourth quarter.
"You saw tonight what they did to him," said Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale, who is a win away from his fourth state title in the last five years. "They were trying to tackle him all night long, get him to lose his composure, and he never did. . . .
"I'm proud of them because if I were them, I don't know if I'd be able to keep my composure with a guy grabbing me for 32 minutes."
Barnes was still going after Newton in the final minutes. Down eight, he bodied Newton so physically the two hit the deck with Neumann-Goretti up eight and 1 minute, 33 seconds on the clock.
This time, Newton got the call and made two free throws, his fifth and sixth of the quarter, and effectively sealed the win.
Phila. Electrical 10 14 10 19 – 53
Neumann-Goretti 11 17 18 19 – 65
PE: Jihad Barnes 7, Larenz Thurman 12, Devante Truitt 17, Nysir Marshburn 5, James Suber 8, Zakee Shakur 4.
NG: Vaughn Covington 6, Tony Toplyn 2, Troy Harper 20, Lamarr Kimble 12, Jamal Custis 4, Ja'Quan Newton 21.