SHORT HILLS, NJ – St. Rose of Lima Academy’s sixth grade boys basketball team won two playoff games over the weekend and will play in their league’s championship game this Saturday.
The Ravens had finished the regular season at 10-6, and entered the playoffs as the fourth seed among 10 junior varsity teams in the Morris County Catholic League.
In their quarter-final round playoff game Saturday,(March 2) the Ravens trailed for much of the game to St. Vincent Martyr Gold of Madison, and were down by as much as nine points in the third quarter. But St. Rose went on a scoring run to take a slim lead. With the team up by two points and less than a minute to play in the game, an opposing player drove to the basket with a chance to tie it. But St. Rose’s Raphael Alba of Springfield slid in front of the opponent, took the charge, crashed to the floor, and saved the game.
The Ravens won 44-41, aided by a season-high 22 points from Cullen Wolff of Maplewood, who hit two 3-pointers. Adam Porfiris of Maplewood turned in big “hustle” stats for St. Rose with 11 rebounds and eight blocks.
The win earned them the right to play in the semi-final round on Sunday (March 3) against the top-seeded team, St. Patrick’s of Chatham, who entered the game with a 16-1 record. St. Rose managed to hold St. Pat’s scoreless for the entire first half, and won the game 34-17. James Bristol of Maplewood hit three 3-point shots for St. Rose and finished with 13 points.
Key rebounds and steals during the game came from St. Rose players David Laskowski of Short Hills, Liam O’Neill of South Orange, Dominic Ragno of Maplewood and Blaise Willson of Cranford.
“Our guys played smothering defense in the paint and were ferocious on the boards,” said St. Rose’s coach, Jim O’Neill of South Orange. “I was tremendously proud of how everyone played against an excellent St. Pat’s team. All of our players made significant contributions. It was truly a team effort.”
The team’s coaching staff includes Joseph Ragno, Emily Porfiris and George Porfiris, all of Maplewood.
The Ravens now face St. Pius of Montville in the championship game this Saturday. The time and location have not yet been finalized.