Tuesday, January 31, 2017

No. 7 St. John's Prep snaps Catholic Memorial's home winning streak in thrilling win

Eagles freshman Jarnel Snow-Guzman and his teammates celebrate after his game-winning three

By Nate Weitzer

WEST ROXBURY, Mass. – Catholic Memorial’s multi-season winning streak at Ronald S. Perry Gymnasium came to an end in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night.

The visiting Eagles of St. John’s Prep spotted the host Knights a 23-7 lead, and trailed 32-21 at halftime before storming back to take their first lead of the contest at 60-59 with under two minutes remaining. 

While the Knights were able to battle back to tie the game at 63 with 25 second remaining, the night belonged to freshman point guard Jarnel Snow-Guzman, who hit his fourth three of the night as time expired to give the Eagles a 66-63 victory in arguably the toughest place to win in the entire state.

“This place has been a house of horrors for us and coming in, we knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” Dullea said about ending the Knights extensive home-winning streak. “That’s is a very good team we played and we haven’t beaten [The Knights] here since I became coach. The way the game started, we had to battle and battle and just stay positive.”

St. John’s Prep (11-3) last won at Catholic Memorial (8-5) on February 1 of 2013. The Knights lost to conference rival BC High four days later and then proceeded to rattle off over 40 consecutive wins at home over the next three and a half seasons.

In this contest, a highly-motivated Knights team came out with their trademark intensity on the defensive end and were able to score 10 points off nine first-half turnovers from Prep.

The Eagles failed to score for six minutes in the late first and early second quarter, but that’s when junior Nate Hobbs (27 points) started to come alive.

Hobbs got hot towards the end of the first half and carried the momentum into the third and fourth quarters, as he piled up 18 second-half points while burning the Knights for extended their full-court pressure too far. 

“We just came out flat, but Coach [Dullea] brought us back into the game,” said Hobbs. “We practice so hard and we knew we could break that press. Once we did I was able to flash to the ball and get some good looks.”

With 6-foot-8 senior Tommy O’Neil (7 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists) controlling the defensive glass, the Eagles were able to get out and run before the Knights could get their defense set. 

Prep’s size advantage certainly made an impact, yet it was the smallest Eagles on the court who made the biggest impact down the stretch.

Freshman Jarnel Snow-Guzman (14 points, 4 assists) hit two gigantic threes to pace Prep to a narrow home win over New Mission last Friday and he continued his heroics by hitting several clutch shots in this game.

He closed the third quarter with a three to cut the Knights lead to 45-41 and added another triple towards the end of the fourth. 

The freshman also showed his poise at the top of a zone offense that beat the Knights 2-3 defensive zone, as he swung the ball to senior Brian Nju-Ghong (4 points, 3 rebounds) for a triple that gave the Eagles their first lead at 60-59. 

After a Catholic Memorial turnover, Hobbs came storming back with an and-1 to make it 63-59 with 90 seconds remaining and it appeared as though the game was in hand.

But the Knights didn’t win so many games at home by accident. 

They broke down the court to get sophomore Jarron Flynn (12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) a lay-up and Kani Glover (14 points) scored on a fast break after another CM stop to tie the game at 63.

Dullea decided not to call timeout and he watched as his young backcourt ran the clock down before his freshman point guard stepped away from pressure and hit a running three-pointer as time expired.  

“It was crazy,” Snow-Guzman said. “We were going back forth. Nate [Hobbs] was attacking, Tommy [O’Neil] was rebounding and in those last couple seconds it just happened. They swung the ball to me, my man flew by and I was hot before so I thought, ‘Why not? It’s just one more to make’, and as I let it go I saw it go in a straight line right through the net.”

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