ELSMERE — Salesianum hung tough with Neumann-Goretti for more than three quarters of the teams’ matchup on Dec. 15, but after the Sals closed the gap to single digits with about three and a half minutes to go, the squad out of the Philadelphia Catholic League managed the final 14 points of the night in a 68-45 victory.
The Saints were the second of seven straight out-of-state opponents for the Sals, who fell to Philadelphia powerhouse Imhotep Charter on Sunday. The game was played at The Grail Sports Complex in Elsmere, which was once the gymnasium of Corpus Christi and All Saints Catholic schools.
Neumann-Goretti — which has several Delaware residents on the roster — looked right at home in the early going. Sultan Adewale opened the scoring with a free throw, but Wilmington’s Masud Stewart knocked down a three-point shot the next time down the floor. Stewart played some defense as well, getting a steal and turning that into a layup, giving the Saints a 6-0 lead and prompting a Sallies timeout.
The lead would balloon to 11-0 before the Sals got on the board on a Isaiah Hynson hit a jump shot, but Khaafiq Meyers answered with a three. The Sals battled back, getting two field goals from Sam Walsh, and trailed, 16-8, at the end of one.
Salesianum grabbed the momentum to open the second. Senior Justin Molen scored the first five points to cut the Saints’ lead to three. It was 18-15 after a short Walsh jumper, and Neumann-Goretti called a timeout. The lead grew to six, and that was the difference at halftime.
The Saints grew their advantage in the opening minutes of the third. Rob Wright III, a Delaware native who is getting offers from high-major college programs, drilled a three-pointer to make it 33-22, but Hynson answered with his own three. Walsh then scored after a traveling violation, and the lead was down to six once more.
The Sals were hurt by turnovers in the latter stages of the third, and the Saints made them pay. They got three-pointers from Meyers and Aamir Hurst in a 12-5 run to close out the third.
The Neumann-Goretti lead was 47-34 when the Sals put together a little run. Molen made one of two free throws, then a triple, and Justin Hinds scored on a putback. The Saints called a timeout with 6:20 remaining and their lead down to 47-40.
Within a minute, the Sals would lose their top scorer to fouls as Molen was disqualified. The Saints built their lead back to a dozen at 54-42, but Brett O’Hara drained a deep three. Stewart, however, drove the lane and ended up with an old-fashioned three-point play, and a blocked shot led to a dunk for Hurst as Neumann-Goretti closed out the win, their second in the First State in four days after an overtjme clash with Howard on Sunday.
Two Delawareans led the Saints as Wright had 17 points, and Stewart added 16. Neumann-Goretti improved to 3-0.
For the Sals, Molen had nine points, and Walsh and Hinds each had eight. Salesianum fell to 1-2 and will play the first of three games at the Bullis Holiday Classic in Maryland on Friday at 8:15 p.m. against St. Vincent Pallotti (Md.).
All photos by Mike Lang.