Roman Catholic ends their season as Catholic League Champions And PIAA 6A State Champions after defeating Lincoln 92-80 - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
HERSHEY, PA – Watching Roman Catholic play basketball this season required a defibrillator.
Game after game, the Cahillites found themselves behind, almost as though they planned it that way. Then, when the game hung in the balance, players discovered their marksmanship and fiercely defended all over the court.
As the final seconds ticked away in Roman’s 92-80 victory over Lincoln High School in the PIAA Class 6A state boys’ basketball championship March 28 at the GIANT Center, the Cahillites celebrated like a team that wasn’t the least bit surprised that they finished in the winning circle.
“Everybody doubted us,” said Roman senior Allen Betrand. “Every game we played hard, and we proved everybody wrong.”
The Cahillites, who have won three of the past four state crowns, finished with a 24-6 overall record and captured 17 of their last 18. Of those 30 games, 17 were decided by 10 or fewer points; on 10 occasions, the margin of victory was five points or fewer.
Roman’s record in those nail biters were a sparkling 14-3 and 8-2, respectively. In the state final against Lincoln, a team that had toppled Roman Catholic, 86-76, in the District XII championship, the Cahillites broke open an 82-80 edge with 1:06 remaining in regulation by scoring the game’s final 10 points – six from the foul line.
“I think it’s poise, composure, leadership, experience,” said Roman Catholic coach Matt Griffin. “We knew they were going to go on runs. They’re a good team. They weren’t going to go away.”
As they did in numerous victories, including their 51-49, last-second Catholic League championship triumph over Bonner-Prendergast, the Cahillites fell behind early. Trailing by 8-1 just 1:39 into the game, Roman responded with a 20-10 close to the first quarter. Other than facing a 33-32 deficit for 19 seconds late in the first half, the Cahillites never trailed again.
As has been consistent throughout the season, Roman’s balanced scoring was superb. Junior Seth Lundy (28 points), junior Hakim Hart (26), sophomore Lynn Greer III (20), and Betrand (14) combined to shoot 31 for 47 from the floor, 6 for 14 on three’s, and 20 of 26 from the foul line.
“That’s definitely the type of game we want to see,” said Lundy, who added a game-high nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two steals. “All four of us could get 20 or 30 points on any given night; us sharing the ball like that is special.”
Lundy led Roman Catholic in scoring for the season with 460 points, one of four Cahillites to tally 425 or more. Greer III was immediately behind him with 458, then Hart at 454, and Betrand at 425.
#23 Seth Lundy led the Cahillites in scoring with 28 points in the 2018 PIAA 6A state championship - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
In the five state playoff games – which included close wins over Pennridge (58-56), Plymouth-Whitemarsh (75-71), and Pine Richland (81-73 in overtime), and a 75-56 blowout of Central Bucks West, Hart averaged 23 points, followed by Betrand (17.6), Greer III (14), and Lundy (13.4).
After the media, including a television crew, concluded their post-game coverage, Griffin climbed into the stands to personally acknowledge plentiful support from family and friends.
Returning to the floor, the fatigued but glowing second-year coach was asked to assess this amazing voyage.
“Just an incredible journey,” said Griffin. “It began last year really. A great group of kids built on it. We worked all spring and all fall. It’s unbelievable to finish the season on a win.”
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)