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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Umosella leads St. Joseph to win playoff opener


Dan Russoman/THG. St. Joseph’s Jason Umosella (right) looks to pass around Princeton Day’s Abdoulaye Seydi late in last week’s South Jersey Non-Public B playoff victory.

HAMMONTON—Sharp shooting from Jason Umosella and Paris Kinsey helped St. Joseph Academy’s boys basketball team win its opening round South Jersey Non-Public B playoff game on February 22, as the Wildcats defeated Princeton Day School 71-60 at Hammonton Middle School.


The game was similar to many of St. Joe’s matchups this season, as the Wildcats were able to counter some sloppy play with a few strong runs to hold off a solid Panthers squad.


“Typical of us. We always seem to have to fight through highs and lows,” St. Joe coach Paul Rodio said.


The game was St. Joe’s first in 13 days, and despite an early 6-0 run, the Wildcats showed some rust early in the game. An 8-2 lead quickly turned into a 10-8 deficit, and Princeton Day led 11-10 after one period of play.


The Wildcats turned up their defensive intensity in the second quarter, creating turnovers that led to several points in transition, frustrating the visiting Panthers.


“Our game plan was to make them uncomfortable, and I thought we did that for the most part,” Rodio said.


Umosella, a senior sniper, connected on a trio of 3-pointers to spark St. Joe’s second quarter run, and Kinsey and Edwin Drummed combined for 11 points as the Wildcats built a 35-23 halftime lead.


St. Joseph was in control, but poor ball security allowed Princeton Day to claw its way back into the game.


Leading by 15, the Wildcats became sloppy with the basketball, and several St. Joseph turnovers created opportunities for Princeton Day to cut the gap to three points late in the third quarter.


With Gary Jennings and Alex Stewart connecting on jumpers and 3-pointers, the Panthers had momentum heading into the fourth quarter, but Umosella helped St. Joe pull away with three more 3-point baskets in the final period.


“That’s what he [Umosella] can do. When Jason’s in a rhythm, like he was tonight, he can really help us,” Rodio said.


Umosella’s sharp shooting created open lanes to the basket for other Wildcats, and Drummed and Will Spross were able to drive for layups that kept the Princeton Day defense off balance.


While pleased with the win, Rodio was critical of his team’s carelessness.


“We won the game, but they [Princeton Day] were a good team that could have beaten us tonight because we got sloppy. I want to see us not turn it over, we do that too much. It’s not supposed to be two, three good possessions and then two turnovers. I just would like better execution with the ball. If we don’t clean up the mistakes, we’re going to be in trouble,” Rodio said.


The win advanced St. Joseph into the quarterfinals at Gloucester Catholic on February 26, but that game ended too late for this edition.


The winner will move into the semifinals on February 29.


“It only gets tougher,” Rodio said.


“But we think we can win. They’re giving me everything they have. This group believes in themselves and there’s a road for us [to get to a championship game]. We just need to cut out the mistakes and execute better,” he said.


The season’s ups and downs have been tough for St. Joseph’s players and coaching staff.


“It’s probably been the most challenging season since I’ve been here, but we’re hovering around .500 and still have a chance to make our mark this year. I’d be happy with a couple more wins and we’ll just keep fighting,” Rodio said.


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