Vincentian grabs hold of Section 2, Class A past North Catholic
In a game that had a huge bearing on the outcome of the Section 2, Class A championship, North Catholic and Vincentian Academy were separated by one section win, an 80-68 Vincentian win over North Catholic early last month.
In the rematch, North Catholic looked determined to make up for the previous defeat, and through two quarters they looked like they had a shot to do it.
North Catholic came out and matched the Royals' intense, fast-paced style of play. North Catholic scored in transition and was running well with the fast-paced Royals attack.
But coming out of the half, up by the score of 40-36, the Royals kicked their game up a notch and paved the way to winning the section crown outright once again with a 91-82 win.
Up by a hard-fought four points, Vincentian followed the lead of Tony DiNardo (27 points) and Ryan Wolf (17 points) to embark in a 15-0 run to open the third quarter.
The lead got as high as 20, and a frustrated North Catholic team began to get in foul trouble and could not contain the Royals' speedy attack.
“The early part of the third quarter is a critical time in the game,” Vincentian coach George Yokitis said. “I knew our guys wanted the win, but their guys wanted it just as bad as we did.”
Yokitis said his players got into a mode of scoring, stealing and scoring again late in the game. By the time North Catholic gathered itself, it was too late.
“We came out in the second half and played hard like we always do,” DiNardo said. “The shots just fell more.
“I went out and played as hard as I could and just trusted my teammates ... I got three easy layups thanks to Wolf, Kevin (Fischer) and (Jim) Kenna. We just play (offense) off our defense.”
DiNardo was defensive in the game, grabbing 11 boards and recording five steals. Wolf and DiNardo led the scoring, but Fischer and Matt Rathz each scored nine, Kenna added 14 and Jay Cortese chipped in 11.
“We played our normal press defense and kept the game moving at a fast pace,” Wolf said. “We got everyone involved early and kept everyone involved.”
Yokitis said with a couple of the North Catholic forwards in foul trouble, he reminded his players to kick it up even more and try to draw a few more fouls to keep the opposition on its heels.
“They just played more aggressively,” Yokitis said.
The plan worked to perfection, and the ever-hustling Royals took control of the section.
“This win is huge, because it qualifies us for the playoffs,” DiNardo said. “Now we want to win the section and get a good seed.”
Yokitis said he had a feeling about the game when he spoke to DiNardo beforehand. He said that star guard always is focused but added that the determination on his guard's face was more obvious than usual.
“Tony is our leader,” Yokitis said. “He has been through the battles ... at the Palumbo Center, against Lincoln Park ... he did not want this team to fall off.”
The Royals (16-1 overall and 6-0 in the section) have not dropped off in the slightest. The team was ranked No. 2 in Class A basketball as of press time, and the only loss was a two-point contest against Bishop Carroll.
DiNardo was the leading man last week, scoring 62 points, grabbing 31 rebounds, stealing 19 balls, adding 16 assists and blocking 8 shots in three section games.
The Royals have been hot to say the least. The lowest offensive output was 73 points, and Yokitis called off the dogs in that game (a 73-30 win against Aquinas Academy).
Vincentian will be back in action against Aquinas Academy tomorrow, Friday, in a road game that is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m., followed by the regular-season finale at Northgate at 6 p.m. on Monday.
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.