ELSMERE – For a few of the players on the Neumann-Goretti boys basketball team, Wednesday night’s game against Salesianum was a homecoming of sorts. Rob Wright III and Masud Stewart, a pair of First State residents, led the Saints to a 68-45 victory over the Sals at The Grail Sports Complex in Elsmere.
An early burst by Neumann-Goretti, which plays in the Philadelphia Catholic League, staked the Saints to an 11-0 lead. Stewart scored five of the first six on a three-pointer and a layup following a steal. The Sals battled back, however, cutting the lead to 16-8 by the end of the first quarter.
Five straight points by Justin Molen to open the second brought the Sals to within three, which is as close as they would get. The Saints were able to get the lead back to six by halftime.
Wright, who is getting interest from several major college programs, drilled a three-pointer in the opening minutes of the third to make it 33-22, but the Sals’ Isaiah Hynson answered. Sam Walsh took advantage of a Saints turnover to get the Sals back within six, but Neumann-Goretti forced several Sallies turnovers in the final minutes of the third. Three-pointers by Khaafiq Meyers and Aamir Hurst were part of a 12-5 run to close out the third.
The lead grew to 13 before Salesianum went on a bit of a run. Molen scored four points on a free throw and a triple, and Justin Hinds followed a miss with a short bank shot, and the Saints’ lead was down to seven at 47-40. Neumann-Goretti called a timeout, and in the next minute, the complexion of the game changed. Molen picked up two quick fouls, his third and fourth of the night, and he was whistled for a technical foul during a stoppage in play, which ended his night.
The Saints went back up by a dozen before a Brett O’Hara three brought the Sals within single digits. Wright quickly went for an old-fashioned three-point play, and Hurst added a dunk with 2:47 remaining. Those points marked the beginning of a 14-0 Saints run to end the contest.
Wright had 17 points, and Stewart added 16 to pace the Saints. 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.).
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