WESTFIELD, NJ — The Roselle Catholic Lions (17-2) are the number one boys’ basketball team in the state and fourth in the nation. And, boy, did they play like it Thursday night. Despite the Westfield Blue Devils (8-7) putting up an early fight, the Lions’ high-octane offense had no problem handling them in a 71-47 victory.
“I’m pretty pleased with how we played today. It was a great environment. The Westfield team, I thought, played very well and I was happy that our guys rose to the challenge that they gave us today,” said Lions head coach Dave Boff.
Roselle Catholic was led by point guard Isaiah Briscoe, who had a game-high 24 points. According to espn.go.com, Briscoe is a five-star recruit and the number one point-guard from the class of 2015 in the entire country. As such, Briscoe is heading to the University of Kentucky next year, which is currently the number one college basketball team in the country, sporting the only perfect record.
Briscoe had plenty of help from his teammates, including Chris Silva, who tallied 15 points of his own and Pierre Sarr, who dropped 12 before getting injured in the third quarter.
“This is really a fantastic team. They’re fun to coach, they’re great to spend time with and they’re supremely talented,” said Boff.
The game started out with a bang for the Lions as Briscoe stole the ball and took it coast to coast for an easy two points.
The Blue Devils were only down 12-17 after the first quarter thanks to a strong defensive performance. However, Westfield found themselves down 38-24 by the half. Owen Murray led the team with 13 points while sophomore Matt Lacorte tacked on eight.
“I thought we’d get hot at some point — we had some spurts when we did. But it just wasn’t enough. When you’re playing a good team like that, you have to play near perfect and we didn’t,” commented Westfield head coach Daryl Palmieri.
Westfield fans were out in full force, and the bleachers were jam-packed. The crowd was rowdy early, especially as Westfield kept it close throughout the first quarter. When Silva received a technical foul for hanging on the rim after dunking, Blue Devil fans repeatedly clapped and then shouted, “You can’t do that!”
The icing on the cake for Roselle Catholic was a huge alley-oop dunk in the fourth quarter. Briscoe threw it off the glass on a fast break and the trailing Silva jumped up and slammed it home to put an exclamation point on the victory.
“We did what we wanted to do — our shots just didn’t go in. Our whole plan going in was to shoot threes and shoot a lot of them and they just weren’t going down. We left some points out on the floor with some missed foul shots in the first half,” said Palmieri.
“We’ve got to have better defensive focus,” commented Boff. “We know that Westfield’s a very good shooting team and we gave them way too many wide-open threes and we were lucky that they didn’t make as many as they normally do.”
“Our kids were fired up to play,” said Palmieri. “That’s why you play the game; you play the game to beat the best. There’s nobody better right now than that team. So, I’m proud of the kids. I’ll never not be proud of them. You can’t make mistakes against a team like that. You don’t get away with it like you do with maybe some other teams.”
Westfield’s next game will be Saturday at 5 p.m. at Rahway. Roselle Catholic will soon take on the number one team in the country, Montverde Academy (Florida), on Feb. 13 at 8:30 p.m. in a tournament game at Kean University.
Eric Storms is a sophomore at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.