One to Go!
One to Go!
Holy Cross, Lackawanna League D-II champion, is one win away from the PIAA Class AA state championship game.
The Crusaders (25-5) face defending state AA champion, Imotep Charter (20-8) at Bethlehem Liberty High School tonight (Wednesday) at 7 pm in the Eastern Final.
The winner advances to Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday at 2 pm to face the winner of the Beaver Falls (27-3) vs. Quaker Valley (24-4) for the state title.
Coach Al Callejas’s ballclub, coming off a pair of anxiety-filled victories in their last two outings with wins over Communications Tech (58-56 overtime) and Pine Grove (37-31), faces another herculean task in Imotep Charter.
“They are not quite as good as their teams of a few years ago but they are very good,” stated Callejas. “We played them our first season as Holy Cross and were in a game.”
Imotep presents a mismatch problem for most teams. A tall and athletic squad on both ends of the floor, Imotep has explosive runs in games. Senior 6-2 G, Kyrene Wooten (15.5 ppg) is the team’s major threat. Junior 6-6, G, Brandon Austin (10.3) and senior 5-10 G, Kamani Jordan (9.0) tops the team’s scoring while junior 6-6 F, Nigel Mupast (6-0) rounds out the top four scorers. Senior 6-5 F, Shakur Nesmith, 6-4 sophomore G, Gregory Bernet and freshman 6-2 G, Devin Leggins also see plenty of play.
“They are big athletic and have a pair of D-I recruits in Wooten and Austin (Penn State),” offered Callejas. “We can’t match up with them inside so we’ll have to stop their penetration and force perimeter shots.” In addition to D-1 hoop recruits, Wooten and Austin, Nesmith is a Temple-bound football recruit
Holy Cross will counter with junior 6-6 C, Josh Kosin (18.1), sophomore 5-7 G, Connor Callejas (11.1), senior 6-0 G. Ryan McGoff (2.8), junior 6-1 G, Casey Gaughan (5.2) and senior 6-2 F Rob Heyen (3.5). Sophomore 6-3 F, Connor Jones and junior 6-0 G Corey Joyce have also seen plenty of minutes.
“We’ll have handle their defensive pressure and execute in our half court offense,” said Callejas. “We can push the ball at times. We have to be clicking on all cylinders. If we are, we’ll have a shot to win.”
Just one win away from a state title game berth, the Crusaders have peaked at the perfect time.
“These kids are on an incredible run,” an elated Callejas remarked. “These guys have worked so hard and just find a way to win. We’re so proud of their effort.”