Carries Colonia Past St. Joe's With Huge 2nd Half, 47-41
By Greg Machos
January 5, 2008
METUCHEN, NJ—Upon arriving in the Vincent Maglio Gymnasium commonly known by this web site as the Bird Cage at St. Joseph's High School, GMC Hoops was greeted by St. Joe's AD, and formerly J.F. Kennedy hoops coach, Jerry Smith, who told the staff running the concessions stand that we brought "bad luck." Perhaps, in light of the fact that the Falcons entered this contest 13-14 in 27 games covered by the site since the 2002-03 season, and what would transpire between the home team and GMC White leader, Colonia Patriots on this night, the site does bring its share of karma to Falcon contests. Second ranked Colonia, which came off a somewhat surprising upset in a game brodcast on WCTC two nights earlier to a Woodbridge team that won only one game in 2006-07, and were without junior forward, Nnamdi Usuwa, found its proverbial backs to the wall at the half as the trailed the fourth ranked Falcons by a score of 25-17. CHS only made 7 of 22 shots from the floor in the opening half including 2 of 8 from beyond the arc as senior point guard, Brandon Hall, highlighted the struggles with 4 of 11 shooting including 1 of 5 from downtown for 9 points, 4 steals, 2 assists, and a rebound. Prior to the second half, however, Hall must have found a telephone booth in the visitor's locker room at the Maglio Gymnasium because in the second half he was Superman to the rescue.
Over the final two periods Hall made 6 of 10 shots including two of his last three point shots while connecting on 4 of 17 from the charity stripe for 18 second half points to rally the Pats to a come from behind 47-41 victory over St. Joe's in front of a near capacity crowd with many GMC dignitaries in attendance on Saturday night. For the game, Hall finished with a game high 27 points on 10 of 21 shooting including 3 of 9 from long distance, and the 4 of 7 at the line along with 6 steals, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Fellow senior, Jeff Mentzel, a 6'5", 240 pound forward, chipped in with 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the line, and 1 of 2 from the line to go along with 8 rebounds, and a block. Meanwhile, St. Joseph's had three players in double figures including Paul Konopacki, who had a team high 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor, and a free throw while collecting 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Senior reserve, Steve Brandenberg played splendidly off the bench with 12 points on 3 of 4 shooting including a three pointer, and 4 of 5 from the charity stripe while also picking up two rebounds and a steal. Sophomore point guard, Steve Rennard had some struggles from the floor, but still managed to collect 10 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and a block. For the rest of the individual stats on this contest, go to the GMC Game Stats section. Looking at the team statistics in the contest, both teams scored in double figures for three of the four periods, but the Pats outscored the Falcons 30-16 in the second half including a 12-5 showing in the third, and an 18-11 effort in the fourth to turn the seven point halftime deficit to a seven point wing.
Colonia managed to end up going 18 of 40 from the floor overall for 45 percent, and 4 of 13 from beyond the arc for 30.8 percent while St. Joseph's only went 16 of 47 from the field for 34 percent including 2 of 10 from downtown. However, the disparity was far greater in the second half as the Patriots made 11 of 18 shots for 61.1 percent including 2 of 5 from three point range for 40 percent while limiting the Falcons to just 5 of 19 shooting for 26.3 percent including 2 of 7 from long distance for 28.6 percent. At the foul line, CHS made 7 of 12 for 58.3 percent including 6 of 9 in the final two frames for 66.7 percent while the Falcons shot themselves in the foot by only going 7 of 16 at the charity stripe for 43.8 percent including just 4 of 12 in the third and fourth periods combined for 33.3 percent. In other statistical departments, the Pats outrebounded St. Joe's (30-25), forced more turnovers (15-18), and had more assists (9-8) while the Falcons held advantages in steals (9-5), blocks (3-1), and charges (1-0). In the first quarter, both teams were somewhat frigid shooting wise although St. Joe's was slightly better going 5 of 15 for 33.3 percent, but committed five turnovers. On the other hand, Colonia made only two miscues, but made only 3 of 13 shots for 23.1 percent including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc for 20 percent. Neither team scored in the first 1:18 before Mentzel got a basket as he was fouled, but then missed the bonus free throw for the traditional three point play so the score stood at 2-0 in favor of Colonia with 6:42 to go in the frame.
Forty-five seconds later, Konopacki tied things up at 2-2 with a short jumper in the paint with 5:57 remaining in the first. Forty-seven seconds after that, Konopacki took in a bounce pass from Nikko Vastola for a layup as he was fouled, and then converted the bonus foul shot for the three point play, and a 5-2 lead at the 5:10 mark. J.J. D'Amico got on the board with a three pointer to tie things up again at 5-5 before Gerard Lewis netted a short jumper in the paint for a 7-5 Falcon lead at the 4:33 mark. Hall then got a steal for a layup to tie things up again at 7-7 with 3:43 left in the opening stanza, but then St. Joseph's put the clamps down with the final four points including a short baseline jumper by Brandenberg from the left side off an assist by Konopacki for a 9-7 lead at the 2:12 mark, and then Konopacki himself ended the quarter scoring with a tap in for an 11-7 edge going into the second. In the last period before the intermission, both teams did more scoring wise by combining for 24 points in the frame with the Falcons getting the lion's share in a 14-10 edge. St. Joe's converted 6 of 13 shots in the second for 46.2 percent while Colonia made 4 of 9 for 44.4 percent. However, early on it seemed that St. Joe's was going to easily come away with the victory as the Falcons began the stanza with an 8-2 run for a 12-2 tear in a 5:59 span for a 19-9 lead. Rennard figured prominently in the early second period spurt with two field goals, and then an assist on another Brandenberg jumper while Konopacki got a steal for a layup to cap the run at the 5:44 mark.
After getting a field goal early on in the second, Colonia wouldn't get its next field goal until the 3:22 mark when D'Amico under heavy duress from Rennard made an off-balanced jumper for a 19-11 Falcon lead. On the very next St. Joe's possession, Brandenberg drew a foul, and sank both of his free throws to give his team a double digit lead again at 21-11 with 3:06 to go in the half. The senior forward had a chance to make the margin even greater onc St. Joseph's got into the bonus, but missed the front end of a one and one at the 2:28 mark. The Pats then rallied with six of the next eight points including one of two from the free throw line by Mike Karabin with 20 seconds to go before halftime that made the score, 23-17 before Rennard canned a jumper from the right wing with five seconds to go as the two teams went into the locker room with the Falcons ahead, 25-17. At the half, St. Joseph's was 11 of 28 from the floor including 0 of 3 from downtown for 39.3 percent, and made 3 of 4 at the charity stripe for 75 percent. The Falcons also enjoyed a two to one advantage on the boards, 20-10. Both teams were about even in assists and turnovers, but Colonia managed to stay within striking distance by making 2 of 8 from three for 25 percent while garnering a 2 to 1 edge in steals (6-3). Looking at the first half scoring, Konopacki registered 11 of his team high 13 over the first two periods by making 5 of 7 shots from the floor, and his only free throw attempt while also collecting two steals, two rebounds, and an assist. Rennard (6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block) and Brandenberg (6 points, 2 rebounds, and a steal) both chipped in with 6 points each as the sophomore guard made 3 of 7 from the floor, and the senior reserve connected on 2 of 3 from both the floor and the foul line.
In the third quarter, the Pats began making their move by scoring 12 of the 17 points in the period. Hall spearheaded the charge with 10 points in the frame including two field goals and two threes while handing out an assist. The senior guard, who hit the weights a bit during the summer, battled amongst the trees on the offensive glass for a putback off his own miss to counter an earlier Falcon score courtesy of freshman center, Robbie Ashamole off an assist by Konopacki for a 27-19 score at the 7:05 mark. Nearly a minute later, St. Joseph's head coach, Dave Turco, called for a 30 second timeout with the score still at 27-19 after neither team could get on the board for almost a minute. Following the timeout, the Falcons got going with another Ashamole basket off an assist by Lewis for his final points of the contest, and a 29-19 lead at the six minute mark. Points continued to be hard to come by as neither squad could get a basket over the next 1:46 before Rennard tallied the final St. Joseph's points in third with one of two at the line for a 30-19 lead at the 4:14 mark. Over the final 4:14, Colonia embarked on a 10-0 tear thanks mostly in part to Hall, who single handedly willed his team back into the contest with a hand in all ten points including a field goal and two threes, and then an assist on an Edmonds layup. Perhaps what happened at the 3:53 mark of the third fired up Hall. At that juncture, the Colonia guard, drove to the basket, and hit the floor hard, which left him shaken up. However, he managed to not only get up, but also stay in the game and finish it with a flourish.
Moments later, Hall got a score to start the key run for a 30-21 St. Joe's lead, and then Karabin came up with a huge defensive stop by drawing a charge on Konopacki at the 2:58 mark. The Patriots then converted the Falcon turnover as Hall drove toward the hoop, and dished to Edmonds for a layup that made the score, 30-23 with 2:33 to go in the stanza. Forty-seven seconds later, Hall struck again, but this time from the perimeter with a trey on the right side that closed the gap to 30-26 at the 1:40 mark. Hall then capped the run with another trey that was just to the right of the top of the key as time was running out in the third for a now tenuous 30-29 St. Joseph's lead entering the fourth. Suddenly turning into a contest, the two teams battled for the bulk of the frame with four lead changes and a tie over the first 3:42 before St. Joe's finally succumbed to the weight of the 23-6 Colonia surge over 11:07 of the final 12:14 of the game for a 42-35 lead with 1:07 remaining, and ultimately a 47-41 victory. Hall began the fourth as he ended the third with a drive through the middle for an acrobatic scoop shot that gave the Patriots their first lead since 2-0 at 31-30 with 7:08 to play. The Falcons would strike back to take the lead again as Rennard found Konopacki for a layup that made the score, 32-31 before Turco called a thirty second timeout at the 6:20 mark. Following the stoppage, St. Joe's went into the bonus, but Rennard misfired on a front end of a one and one with 5:48 left. Mike Nweme would then tie things up at 32-32 with his only point of the game on a 1 of 2 showing at the line at the 4:47 mark, but shortly afterward, the Falcons retook the lead on a three pointer from Rennard off an assist by Konopacki that made it 35-32.
Heading into the stretch drive, the Patriots rallied to take the lead for good with another 10-0 spurt over a four minute plus span as Hall continued his heroics. First the four year varsity player, drove to the basket, and dished to Mentzel for a layup at the 4:30 mark, and then Hall got a stop, and then a layup with 4:18 to play that put Colonia up 36-35. Following a thirty second timeout by second year head coach, Chris Chiera at the 3:05 mark, CHS put St. Joseph's on the ropes as Hall drove to the goal again, and dished once more to Mentzel for a layup as he was fouled for a three point play to make the score, 39-35 with 2:50 remaining. Rennard then missed another front end of a one and one at the 2:33 mark, and Edmonds got a layup as he was fouled, but missed the bonus free throw for a 41-35 Patriot lead at the 1:52 mark. Hall then swiped a steal, and was subsequently fouled at the 1:31 mark, but missed the front end of a one and one. Hall was eventually fouled again at the 1:07 mark, and made one of two to cap the decisive 10-0 tear, and gave CHS a 42-35 lead. Making a frantic 6-2 rally over a brief 53 second span including a clutch three pointer by Brandenberg off an assist by Rennard with 14 seconds to go, the Falcons pulled within three at 44-41, but they couldn't get any closer as Hall made another one of two with 12.4 left for a 45-41 lead, and then netted another two from the charity stripe to seal the six point win.
With the victory, Colonia, which had gotten off to its best start since GMC Hoops was launched by winning its first seven games, has now won four of the last five meetings between the two schools since the 2002-03 season, and moved up to 8-1 overall on the season including a 5-1 mark in conference play. Meanwhile, the Falcons, now 13-15 all time in 28 games covered by the site, dropped to 7-2 overall, and 3-2 in the GMC.
St. Joseph's (7-2)
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