Vincentian Royals tally another big win
Vincentian Academy's student section sang “Happy Birthday” to Matt Rathz at Friday night's game against Eden Christian, but he was only concerned with continuing the team's undefeated season.
“This was a big game, our first section game, so it was definitely important to get a win,”Rathz said.
Rathz, along with Tony DiNardo, led the team with four blocks each to deter Eden Christian's post game in their 79-56 win.
“It's a great, dominating feeling when you get a block,” Rathz said. “It feels like you know they're not going to want to bring it back into your house.”
Vincentian Academy coach George Yokitis explained how DiNardo, who also led the team with 19 points, gets most of his blocks.
“If you noticed, DiNardo plays like an NBA player,” Yokitis said. “He doesn't block the guy he's guarding, but he blocks the guy someone else is guarding. He has an uncanny knack for following the ball, coming off the guy he's guarding and blocking another guy's shot.”
But the Royals found themselves in an early 7-0 deficit after Eden Christian's defense forced Vincentian Academy to miss its first six shots.
“They have a nice 1-2-2 trap, and their kids are really active and competitive,” Yokitis said.
The Royals chipped away at Eden Christian's lead until Jay Cortese made two free throws early in the second quarter to put Vincentian Academy up, 17-15, a lead it did not surrender.
“It's not often teams come in here and are up, 7-0,” Yokitis said. “Usually it's the other way around, so I thought our kids really responded well.”
Eden Christian kept the game close until Cortese buried a two-handed dunk over the head of a defender to make the score 47-41 in the third quarter.
“We tell him to dunk whenever he gets the chance, and he hasn't missed one yet,” Yokitis said. “Plays like that certainly affect our team, and after that our defense settled in.”
The Royals expect more tough section games ahead.
“This is how it's going to be in sections this year,” Rathz said. “We don't expect to walk over any teams, so we have to play hard-nosed to win.”
And by Rathz's own admission, they are a small team that can't make too many mistakes.
“We've worked all spring, through summer and fall and we want to see our hard work pay off,” Rathz said. “We're confident we can make a run.”
The Royals will have another big home game at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11, when they hosts Quigley. The Royals will play the following day, as well, as Bishop Carroll pays a visit at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12.
Vincentian will then head to Sewickley for a 7:30 p.m. contest on Jan. 15.
North Hills 60, Shaler 58 — Titans star forward Geno Thorpe did not play in the first half, but his 25 second-half points were almost enough to boost Shaler past North Hills.
The Titans have yet to tally a win in Section 3-AAAA play but will continue a run of section games in the coming days.
Shaler will play at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Butler before returning home to face Pine-Richland at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 15. The Titans then hit the road to play North Allegheny at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 22.
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.