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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Late shot lifts St. Joe to third-straight win

Dan Russoman/THG. Paris Kinsey dribbles past Millville’s Khalon Foster during last week’s game. Later in the week, Kinsey’s last-second shot helped St. Joe top Atlantic Christian.

EGG HARBOR TWP.—Paris Kinsey’s last-second shot gave St. Joseph Academy’s boys basketball team a 65-63 victory at Atlantic Christian on January 20, as the Wildcats posted their third-straight win.

“This was a huge win for us. We’re really building some momentum,” St. Joseph coach Paul Rodio said.

The Wildcats struggled early in the game, and trailed 15-9 after one quarter of play. In the second quarter, St. Joe found its rhythm offensively, as Will Spross scored 10 points in the period and Edwin Drummed added seven as the Wildcats used a 21-15 run to tie the game, 30-30, at halftime.

In the third quarter, Atlantic Christian rallied to take a six-point lead into the final period, where Kinsey scored 10 points, including a jumper from the right side as time expired to lift St. Joseph to the victory.

Kinsey finished the game with 13 points, and Spross led the Wildcats with 26.

Drummed had 13 and Jason Umosella added 11 for the Wildcats.

The victory raised St. Joe’s record to 7-8 entering play on January 22.

“I can’t complain right now. We’re looking at the South Jersey (playoff) picture and we’re in a good spot with that win and for the CAL and we’re just climbing and we just have to keep fighting and take it day-by-day because we know (our schedule) is a gauntlet,” Rodio said.

The victory at Atlantic Christian capped a perfect week for the Wildcats, who also defeated Egg Harbor Twp. on January 17 and Millville on January 18.

The winning streak is St. Joseph’s longest of the season.

“We just have to take care of business each night. At the start of the season, I said we’d have a tough stretch but in the end, you’ll see St. Joe in the mix. And I’m not saying we’re going to win anything, but we’ll be in the mix,” Rodio said.

A 57-44 win against Egg Harbor Twp. (EHT) avenged an opening-night loss to the Eagles and sparked St. Joe’s winning-streak last week.

The Wildcats started well and were in control from start to finish.

Spross scored 23 points and Umosella had 15 to pace the Wildcats.

The following evening, St. Joe edged Millville 59-51, defeating another team it had lost to earlier in the season.

“Our word is ‘redemption’ right now because, second half of the season, we want to return the favor to some of those teams that caught us at the start of the season,” Rodio said.

The game against Millville was close throughout, with St. Joe using a pair of Spross baskets to grab an early 13-10 lead that grew to 28-20 at halftime behind three more Spross buckets and an Umosella 3-pointer.

The Wildcats were able to create turnovers to feed their transition game in the second half, and despite some strong play by the visiting Thunderbolts, Spross, Kinsey and Umosella were able to hit key shots that powered St. Joe to the win.

“Great win I just hope we can carry it because we have a lot of tough games coming up. We can’t be happy with anything right now,” Rodio said.

The three wins last week came after St. Joe had dropped a close game to rival Hammonton on January 12.

It was an emotional game and Rodio wasn’t sure how his team would respond to the loss.

“We’ve been an emotional team and in big games like that, we’re emotionally drawn with the fight with them and how the season has gone for us,” Rodio said.

“The Hammonton loss taught us that we can play with anybody and now a few good wins for us and we have to keep rolling,” he said.

With more than half the season behind them, the Wildcats are focused on preparing for the postseason.

“I’m excited and I hope we can keep this momentum going because the kids are buying in.

We just want to keep fighting for the CAL and the state tournament and we just feel that we’re going to be so battle-tested that we’re going to be scary to play,” Rodio said.

Earlier this week, St. Joseph played at Ocean City, but that game ended too late for this edition. On January 24, St. Joe visits Wildwood Catholic at 7 p.m.


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