• Dan Russoman

St. Joe cruises past Spirit


Ja’son Prevard scored eight points in St. Joe’s win at Holy Spirit last week. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

ABSECON—Looking to snap a two-game losing streak, St. Joseph Academy’s boys basketball team turned in one of its best performances of the season last week, cruising past host Holy Spirit 60-41 in a key Cape Atlantic League game.


“This was such a huge win for us. To go on the road after losing two-straight and just play as well as we did tonight; I’m so proud of these kids. We were in kind of a tailspin for a while, a lot of things going wrong for us on and off the court, but we put it all aside and played really well,” St. Joseph coach Paul Rodio said.


The first matchup of the two teams ended with a hard-fought 62-59 win for the Wildcats on December 22. Last week’s rematch was never close, as St. Joseph led from start to finish, taking a 13-5 first-quarter lead and never looking back.


The Wildcats spread the ball around, were tenacious on defense and turned in one of the more complete all-around games they’ve enjoyed this season.


“During one of the timeouts, I told them this is how we can play when no one cares who gets the credit,” Rodio said.


“We’ve dealt with some selfishness this season and it was good to see us play as a team, to get everyone involved,” he said.


Arnaldo Rodriguez, who led the Wildcats with 28 points in the win, hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark St. Joe’s first-quarter run. In the second period, Devon Theophile came off the bench to score seven points as the Wildcats built a 28-14 halftime lead.


In the third quarter, baskets from Rodriguez, senior captain Ja’son Prevard and Darryl McGraw helped St. Joe withstand a Holy Spirit rally and maintain a double-digit lead.


“Ja’son has been a leader for us and he picked it up when they [Holy Spirit] started fighting back. And it was great to see Darryl [McGraw] do some things inside,” Rodio said.


In the fourth quarter, Sean Kane hit a pair of 3-pointers to help the Spartans close the gap, but Rodriguez and Theophile converted seven free throws down the stretch to seal the win.


The game was just the second this season for Theophile, who sat out the season’s first 30 days after transferring from Winslow Twp. The junior forward spent his freshman year at St. Joe.


“It’s great to have Devon back. He gives us a presence inside and he’s playing great basketball,” Rodio said.


Theophile finished the game with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.


The victory against Holy Spirit came after St. Joseph had dropped a 69-66 game in overtime at Lower Cape May, a surprising upset win for the host Tigers.


After falling behind early, St. Joseph led for much of the matchup, but Lower hit two late 3-pointers to force overtime where the Tigers outscored the Wildcats 9-6 to earn the win.


“We were sloppy with the ball and missed some foul shots at the end [of regulation],” Rodio said.


Prevard’s 20 points led St. Joe, while Ian Harvey Williams and Majid Abdur-Rahim each added 10 in the loss.


St. Joseph ended last week’s action with a 69-37 win at Penns Grove. A 20-9 second quarter run powered the lopsided win for the Wildcats.


Theophile had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead St. Joe, while Prevard added 14 points and Jared Demara scored 13 in the win.


Earlier this week, St. Joseph hosted Cedar Creek, but that game ended too late for this edition. On January 26, the Wildcats play at Burlington Twp. at 5:15 p.m. St. Joe also takes on Eastern on January 29 at 11:30 a.m. at Rancocas Valley High School.