Neumann-Goretti (PA) captures their 5th state title in six years with a 69-67 win over Catholic League rival Archbishop Carroll (PA). The Saints finish off their 2nd consecutive Pennsylvania AAA state title run with a 30-2 record despite losing four starters off last year’s championship team, which included Saints all-time great JaQuan Newton. Archbishop Carroll (PA) came into the season as the favorite to win this year’s AAA title behind senior leaders Derrick Jones and Ernest Aflakpui; however, Aflakpui tore his meniscus in early December sidelining him for his senior year. Derrick Jones filled the void during the regular season as he did in the title game finishing with a heroic effort in the title game.
In the end, Neumann-Goretti was just too good as they won their 13th consecutive matchup with the Patriots, playing good team basketball, moving the ball well, and pulling things together in the second half of play. The Saints had a balanced attack as four of their five starters were in double figures led by 2016 6’ 2” SG Zane Martin who finished with 26 points. Zane Martin was the x-factor in the win for Neumann-Goretti as he exploded for 17 second-half points for the Saints, including two big momentum-changing threes in the third quarter on consecutive possessions. Martin wasn’t the player that was expected to have a big game for Neumann-Goretti but the Junior will certainly be remembered for his efforts on this night as he led the Saints to their second consecutive AAA State Title.
Next in line for the Saints is star 2017 guard Quade Green who finished with a quiet 14 points in the championship game as he was denied the ball by Patriot defenders all night. Quade Green now has two state titles in his two years at Neumann-Goretti and will be in control of Neumann-Goretti’s destiny over the next two seasons. 2016 6’ 0” PG Vaughn Covington’s hot start helped the Saints stay in it early as he finished with 17 points and 2015 St. Joseph’s commit Lamarr Kimble played a significant role in the fourth finishing with 10 points on the night.
On the other side of the ball, Carroll star 2015 6’ 7” UNLV commit Derrick Jones finished with a monster performance of 30 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the loss for Carroll. Jones has led the Patriots to two state title games in the previous three years coming up empty in both. Derrick Jones may be the most electric dunker in the senior class as he makes momentum-changing plays on a weekly basis for the Patriots and he will certainly go down as one of the all-time greats to play at Archbishop Carroll. The biggest flaw in Jones game against Neumann-Goretti was his free throw shooting as he finished an abysmal 4-15 from the line. Jones was one of three Carroll starters in double-figures as Josh Sharkey finished with 13 points and David Beatty finished with 11 points in their title game performance.
Both teams have a bright future ahead of them as Archbishop Carroll will return three of their five starters and Neumann-Goretti will return four starters from their championship team. Archbishop Carroll will return starters 2016 SG Ryan Daly, 2016 PG Josh Sharkey, and 2017 SG David Beatty next season, as they will look to make another run back to the Giant Center. Neumann-Goretti will return starters 2017 PF Dhamir Crosby-Roundtree, 2016 SG Zane Martin, 2016 PG Vaughn Covington, and 2017 PG Quade Green. The Saints will also return bench contributors 2016 SG Rasheed Browne and 2017 PF Emile Moody who both saw time in this year’s championship game. The Saints will move onto next year as the favorite for another state title and if everyone returns, who will stop them?