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Posted On: 01/9/19 1:57 PM
Last night was a battle between two schools who are very familiar with each other. O’Dea vs. Eastside Catholic. These two teams met in this years 3A football state championship, where Eastside won in dominating fashion. So on top of their rivalry, their was some extra animosity between them.
Both teams were short-handed as O’Dea didn’t have their star postman, Paolo Banchero due to a concussion. While Eastside Catholic lost Nolan Hickman to a leg injury.
The compact Phil Lumpkin gymnasium was filled to capacity. Including Eastside Catholics student section which had some football players who wanted to make sure O’Dea remembered who won last time they met.
From the captains meeting, where both teams elected to have the whole team meet at half, it was an intense matchup from start to finish.
With both teams down one key player, both teams bench depth would be put to the test.
O’dea was lead by Noah Williams who finished the game with 25 points, including all 8 of Odea’s overtime points. Noah displayed senior leadership and toughness. Scoring big bucket after big bucket, and finishing the game despite a bad ankle twist towards the end of the second overtime. Noah also scored both baskets to send the game into its extra periods.
Williams missed a number of free throws throughout the game which could have changed the outcome. But the Fighting Irish would not have been in the game if it wasn’t for Williams big performance.
Sophomore Jermaine Davis played big. Chipping in 14 points and coming up with big rebounds and blocks.
Sharpshooter John Christofilis scored 10 points but was held in check as Eastside faced guarded him and made sure not to give up many open looks.
Jaylahn ‘JT’ Tuimoloau led the game in scoring for Eastside with 26 points and 13 rebounds. JT took full advantage of Banchero’s absents, as there was no stopping him. The full skillset was on display, JT took guys off the dribble with some nifty dribble moves, and also finessed his defenders in the post.
Eastside also received big contributions from their other sophomore studs Shane Nowell and Syon Blackmon. Nowell poured in 15 points before fouling out at the beginning of the first overtime. He scored 13 of his 15 in the first half.
Blackmon stepped up and dropped 10 points including big buckets in the forth quarter and overtime.
In Hickmans absents, the point guard duties were shared by senior Christian Lakes and junior Grant Hunt. Both did a serviceable job running the offense but made their presents felt on the defensive end.
Biggest Take Aways:
Both teams came in the game missing key players which forced coach Kerr and coach Merritt to exploit all possible lineups. In the end, Eastside Catholic’s depth separated them down the stretch in overtime. Their depth is what separates them from almost any team in state, as they played 11 players last night.
Both of these teams are mainly constructed with sophomores. Aside from Noah Williams and Griffin Barker, all of the major contributors for both teams will be returning next season. So this could only be the beginning of classic showdowns to come.
O’Dea has suffered some tough loses recently and the lose of Paolo makes them even more vulnerable. But with a young team, this could give some of the young players with lesser roles a chance to step up. This could also put O’Dea in a tough spot come playoffs depending on how long Banchero will be out.
While Eastside Catholic barely beat a Fighting Irish team without its best player and maybe the most impactful player in the state, they still come out with a quality win. The crusaders showed they are not just front runners, but know how to battle through adversity. Finishing the game with their starting backcourt on the bench.