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Trenton Catholic Downs University To Reach T Of C Final, 63-46
By Greg Machos
March 19, 2010
PISCATAWAY, NJ—With perennial powerhouses like St. Patrick’s, St. Anthony’s, and Paterson Catholic either disqualified from state tournament play, or eliminated in sectional or state finals, this year’s Tournament of Champions is wide open. For the winner of the first matchup of a T of C semifinal doubleheader at the Rutgers Athletic Center, a first ever berth in the championship game on Monday night awaited. This was the second straight year that the Newark University Phoenix reached the Tournament of Champions after being ousted in the opening round last year by crosstown rival, Newark Science. Meanwhile, Trenton Catholic was making its first appearance since 1990 when it was named McCorristin, and was in the Non-Public A bracket.
University got to this point by winning the Group I State Championship over Woodbury from South Jersey , and then defeating Group III State Champion Mendham in the opening round of the T of C. On the other hand, Trenton Catholic, which survived a strong challenge in the Non-Public B South Championship from Cardinal McCarrick, stunned Non-Public B North Champion, St. Anthony’s in triple overtime to win the Non-Public B State Title after losing the previous two years in a row. The Iron Mikes, which compete in the Burlington County Scholastic League, had an advantage going into this game by being seeded second in the tourney, and getting the traditional first round bye along with top seeded Camden Catholic.
The Iron Mikes had four different players score in double figures and eight players break into the scoring column while University only had six players get into the books including two in double figures as Trenton Catholic outscored the Phoenix in each of the final three periods including a 15-3 showing in the second to break away from a 14-14 first quarter tie for a 63-46 victory. For the game, Trenton Catholic connected on 15 field goals, four threes, and 21 free throws while University clicked on only 10 field goals, four threes, and 14 foul shots. Diminutive senior guard, Dondre Whitmore led the way for TCA with a game high 21 points on two field goals, three treys, and eight foul shots. Whitmore scored ten of those points in the fourth quarter including a perfect 8 of 8 from the charity stripe. Teammate, and senior forward, Frantz Massenat chipped in with 14 points on four field goals and six free throws. Massenat, who had a layup and two foul shots in the final 9:19 of the contest, handed out two assists in the fourth.
Chaz Patterson chipped in with 10 points on three field goals, a three pointer, and a foul shot while senior reserve, Markese Tucker added 10 points of his own on four field goals and two foul shots. The Phoenix were led by Kazembe Abif, who scored a team high 13 points on two field goals, a three pointer, and six foul shots. Teammate Brandon Waiters chipped in with 11 points on four field goals and three foul shots. Waiters scored seven of his points in the fourth while Abif got his only three of the game in the final period. The Iron Mikes trailed 13-12 late in the first, but held University without a field goal for about twelve minutes while building up a twelve point lead early in the third. TCA maintained that lead through the balance of the period, and increased it to 41-27 with 1:19 to play in the frame. Massenat then got his only field goal of the final 9:19 of the contest with a layup at the buzzer for a 43-27 lead.
University, which competes in the Super Essex Conference, began the fourth on the wrong foot by traveling just seven seconds into the period, but Keith Foster got the team going with a three from the top of the key at the 7:00 mark for a 43-30 Trenton Catholic lead. On the next TCA possession though, Patterson took in a dish off the drive by Massenat for a layup and a foul that resulted in a traditional three point play, and a 46-30 lead at the 6:43 mark. A little less than a minute later, Whitmore netted two foul shots for a 48-30 lead at the 5:45 mark. Waiters got the Phoenix within 15 again with a conventional three point play at the 5:39 mark for a 48-33 score. Massenat then made a nice pass upcourt to Whitmore for a layup, and a 50-33 lead with 5:27 remaining in the contest. On the next University possession, Waiters did his best to keep his team in the game with a pair of foul shots that brought the deficit down to fifteen again at 50-35 with 5:12 to go.
Scores continued to go back and forth for both teams as TCA got another bucket for a 52-35 lead before Harris (a FG for 2 points) got an offensive rebound off a Ronnie Paden (1 of 2 FTs for a point) block, and dished to Waiters for a layup, and a 52-37 Iron Mikes lead with 4:25 to go. Whitmore sank two foul shots ten seconds later for a 54-37 lead, but Abif got his only points of the period with a three pointer from the right corner at the 4:06 mark for a 54-40 score. Abif’s three sparked a 8-2 run that helped University close the gap to eleven at 56-45 with 3:10 to play. Highlighting the run was two free throws at the 3:47 mark by Derrick Hunter, a three pointer by Foster from Hunter at the 3:10 mark that closed the gap to eleven. Massenat got the only points during this stretch with two free throws at the 3:56 mark. Unfortunately, despite the urging of a very passionate University student section, the Phoenix were unable to get any closer as they scored only one point the rest of the way.
University did have an opportunity to get closer when it got a rebound, and went on a fast break, but the pass ahead was too long, and went out of bounds as Trenton Catholic called timeout with 2:41 to go. Following the timeout, the Iron Mikes put the game away by netting 7 of 10 from the line down the stretch. The Phoenix got their only points on one of two from the line by Hunter at the 1:53 mark for a 58-46 TCA lead. Whitmore netted four free throws during this stretch while Khalid Lewis-El and Paden got their only points of the contest by making one of two at the line with 1:10 and 53.2 to go. With the victory, Trenton Catholic, ranked sixth in the Star-Ledger Top 20, improved to 27-3 overall on the season and advanced to the Tournament of Champions final against the other semifinal winner, Camden Catholic at 8:00 PM on Tuesday night at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford . University, the two time Group I State Champions, and ranked ninth in the Star-Ledger Top 20, finished the season at 28-5. Analysis will be forthcoming in the blog.
Trenton Catholic (27-3)
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