GAR (21-6) vs. Neumann-Goretti (23-4)
PIAA Class 3A Second Round
7:30 p.m. today, Bethlehem Freedom H.S.
What’s At Stake: The winner advances to the quarterfinals Friday, playing the winner of the game between District 3 third seed Bishop McDevitt (27-2) and District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic (28-0). Those teams play at 7:30 p.m. today at Martz Hall in Pottsville.
How They Got Here: D12 champion Neumann-Goretti defeated D3 fifth seed Berks Catholic 62-46 in the first round. D2 third seed GAR topped D4 champion Shamokin 61-49.
Scouting GAR: Unlike its two previous trips to state, GAR was able to get out of the first round with a 61-49 victory over D4 champ Shamokin. The Grenadiers last appeared in the second round in the 2006-07 season, losing 66-34 to D12 runner-up Imhotep Charter in the Class 2A playoffs.
The Grenadiers were 4-4 at one point this season, with three of those losses coming against Abington Heights, Hazleton Area and Parkland. All three are playing in the second round. Another loss came to Meyers, which is also still playing.
Two-time WVC Division II MVP Isaiah Francis, a 6-foot-3 guard, will have to be at the top of his game. He had 25 against Shamokin. Fellow seniors James Holmes and Jahlil Harvey — both guards — will also get their biggest tests on both ends of the court. So will 6-7 junior center Nigebo Francis because Neumann-Goretti has two Division I athletes inside the paint.
Scouting Neumann-Goretti: This is the sixth season since the Philadelphia Catholic League joined the PIAA. Neumann-Goretti has won three state titles in that span and is favored to make it four this season. The championships came in Class 3A in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. Since joining the PIAA, the Saints are 130-17 overall with only five losses coming against Pennsylvania opponents.
Senior Ja’Quan Newton, a 6-foot-1 combo guard, averages 21 points per game and has committed to the Miami (Fla.). His backcourt mates — 6-1 senior Troy Harper and 5-10 junior Lamarr Kimble — also average in double figures. Neumann-Goretti also has size inside with a pair of 6-5 seniors — Tony Toplyn and Jamal Custis. Toplyn will play basketball at Division I Campbell University. Custis is a Syracuse football recruit.
The Saints were slow out of the gate against Berks Catholic, leading only 26-23 at halftime. They eventually pulled away for a 16-point victory for their 12th consecutive win.