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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

St. Joseph boys ousted in overtime

Dan Russoman/THG. St. Joseph boys basketball coach Paul Rodio talks to his team prior to the start of overtime in last week’s South Jersey Non-public B quarterfinal loss.

GLOUCESTER—A season filled with more than its share of ups and downs came to a disappointing end for St. Joseph Academy’s boys basketball team on February 26, as the Wildcats were ousted from the South Jersey Non-Public B playoffs with a 52-48 overtime loss to Gloucester Catholic in a quarterfinal matchup.

As they have several times this season, the Wildcats built a large lead only to watch their opponent take advantage of sloppy play to stage a dramatic comeback.

Trailing by as much as 15 points, the host Rams delighted a standing-room only crowd in their small gymnasium by forcing some late turnovers and connecting on a few clutch shots down the stretch to force overtime and earn a trip to the semifinals.

It was a stunning loss for a young Wildcats team that controlled the game for a half before allowing Gloucester Catholic to claw its way back and eventually pull out the win in extra time.

“It was typical of us. We just made too many mistakes let them take it from us,” St. Joseph coach Paul Rodio said.

Things appeared headed St. Joseph’s way seconds into the game, as Jason Umosella sank 3-pointers in each of the Wildcats first two possessions.

A Paris Kinsey basket put St. Joe up 6-0, and they led 8-2 before Gloucester Catholic fought back to close the gap to 8-7 late in the first quarter.

A pair of shots by Will Spross put St. Joe ahead 12-7 at the end of the period, and the sophomore guard added five points to go with a pair of baskets from Edwin Drummond to send the Wildcats into the locker room at halftime up 25-16.

That momentum failed to carry into the third quarter, as Gloucester Catholic quickly used a 7-0 run to put themselves back into the game.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Jack Mustro and Billy Ginipro cut into St. Joseph’s lead and despite key baskets from Drummond and Victor Rozier, the Wildcats were fortunate to hold a slim 34-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

That period belonged to the Rams. After turning the ball over twice to open the period, St Joe scored on Kinsey’s spinning layup to take a 36-29 lead.

Gloucester Catholic used a shot from Mustro and a free throw from Trey Battle to close to within four points before Kinsey drove the baseline for another layup that put St. Joe ahead 38-32 with 3:30 left in regulation.

Kyle Guldin’s basket kept the game close for Gloucester Catholic, before Mustro’s 3-pointer left the Rams trailing by a point, 38-37, with 2:01 left.

Spross connected to extend St. Joe’s lead to 40-37, but with less than two minutes to go, Mustaro drilled a deep 3-pointer from the right side to tie the game, 40-40.

A St. Joseph miss gave Gloucester a chance to win in regulation, but Carlos Mendez missed a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left, giving the Wildcats one final opportunity to win in regulation.

Spross had a good look at the basket as time expired but his shot was off the mark and the game went into overtime.

Drummond gave St. Joe an early lead in overtime, but a pair of Gloucester Catholic baskets put the Rams in front 44-42. Spross tied the game at 44, and another Kinsey shot knotted things at 46 with 2:03 remaining.

Battle and Mustro both scored to put Gloucester Catholic ahead 50-46 with 45 seconds to go, With 26 seconds left, Spross drove for a layup to pull St. Joseph within two points, but a Battle free throw with 13 seconds left put the Rams up 51-48.

Both Umosella and Spross were off the mark on 3-pointers in the final seconds and less than two seconds to go, Battle sealed the win when he converted a foul shot to make the final score 52-48.

Spross had a game-high 15 points for St. Joseph, while Drummond added 11.

The loss left St. Joe with a 12-15 record, the first losing season in Rodio’s 10-year tenure as head coach.

“It’s been a tough season. We have a very young team that struggled at times but I think they bought into what we’re trying to do here and, hopefully, we can build on this and get better,” Rodio said.


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