PENNY HILL – With the clock winding down and his team trailing Mount Pleasant by a point, Salesianum sophomore forward Jack Brown knew what he had to do. Mike Kempski had driven into the lane, attracting three Green Knights defenders, when he kicked the ball out to Brown beyond the three-point line.
Brown calmly squared up and released the ball, which swished through the net a second later, and the Sals had a 39-37 lead with 33.2 seconds to go. The Sals played the necessary defense on Mount’s final two possessions, and they escaped with an upset road win over the state’s top-ranked team on Feb. 4 in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd.
“I wasn’t hitting shots the whole game, but I was wide open, so I had to take the shot,” Brown said.
The shot did not immediately earn the win. The potent Green Knights still had two chances to tie or take the lead. After Brown’s field goal, they missed on their first attempt, and Salesianum’s Duncan Trerotola came down with the rebound.
At that point, Mount had committed just three team fouls in the second half, so they needed four more before the Sals went to the free throw line. That burned 12 seconds off the clock, but it paid off when Salesianum missed on the front end of a one-and-one. With 18.2 seconds to go, the Green Knights regained possession.
This time, Paul Brown blocked a baseline drive, and an attempt to get the ball inside to Mount Pleasant forward KVonn Cramer was foiled by a Salesianum double team. Jack Brown picked up the loose ball to seal the victory.
“It’s surreal,” Jack Brown said. “Beating the No. 1 team in the state, we should be in the rankings now.”
The wild ending capped a topsy-turvy fourth quarter that began with the Green Knights ahead, 29-25. A dunk by Cramer gave Mount a 31-27 lead, but Trerotola trimmed that to one with his fourth three-pointer of the day. The Green Knights’ Fahmir Ali – who played last season as a freshman at Salesianum – hit a free throw, but Trerotola tied it with a field goal with 4:40 to go.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons on our team,” Trerotola said. “I guess they were focused more on those guys. I was open, and I made the most of my opportunities.”
Paul Brown put the Sals ahead with a baseline drive, and he made it a 36-32 game with a hook shot. Ali answered with a big three-pointer, and with 1:06 to go he put Mount ahead by one with a floater in the paint. This time, Brown would answer with the eventual game-winner.
For Salesianum (10-5), Saturday marked the end of a four-game stretch against ranked teams, all without their sophomore big, Tariq Ingraham. After dropping the first of those at Sanford, the Sals pulled off upsets against St. Elizabeth, Appoquinimink and Mount Pleasant.
“It’s huge,” Trerotola said. “We’ve won three in a row against good teams, so we’re feeling good. We’re going into the last stretch of our schedule and getting ready for the tournament.
“Those were games we wanted to win. This is a good opportunity to show what we’re made of.”
Trerotola led the way for the Sals with 16, and Paul Brown had 12. Salesianum plays four of its final five games at home, beginning Tuesday vs. Brandywine at 7:30 p.m.
Mount Pleasant received 14 points from Ali and 10 from Cramer. The Green Knights (15-3) travel to William Penn on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.