NEWARK, N.J. —
The sting of the Gray Bees proved too much for St. Anthony (Jersey City)
to handle Friday night at the Prudential Center as the Friars saw their 83-game winning streak was snapped in front of over 4,000 fans.
In a highly anticipated matchup with national championship implications, St. Benedict's Prep (Newark)
knocked off the two-time defending national champs 47-38 in the marquee game of the Newark National Invitational.
The defensive prowess of perimeter players Tyler Ennis
, Isaiah Briscoe
and Jordan Forehand
forced St. Anthony into 20 turnovers and helped limit the Friars to just four points in the third quarter. St. Benedict's Prep led by as many as 16 points early in the fourth quarter.
"All week we've been focusing on defense and stopping Josh Brown
and Hallice Cooke
," Briscoe said. "Jordan Forehand and Jon Williams
played tremendous defense on their guards and made it difficult for St. Anthony to get good shots."
Cooke led St. Anthony – ranked No. 4 nationally by MaxPreps – with 12 points. Brown finished with eight, but the tandem combined for just 10 of 29 shooting from the floor.
Ennis led St. Benedict's with 14 points and committed just one turnover in 30 minutes. Future Pittsburgh Panther Michael Young
finished with 13 and Briscoe, one of the nation's top sophomores, finished with 11.
The two teams struggled out of the gate and played a lackluster first half. St. Benedict's Prep (20-1) came into the game fresh off its only loss of the season, a 54-52 setback to Blair Academy (Blairstown)
on Wednesday. St. Anthony was playing for the fifth time in seven days.
St. Benedict's, ranked No. 2 in MaxPreps.com's Academy Top 10, led 19-17 at the half and came out of the break looking to take matters to the rim.
"I told our guys we have to work through Mike Young," Ennis said. "A lot of times we look for our own shots a little bit too much and Mike scores pretty much every time he touches the ball. I made it clear to everyone, including myself, that we were going to work our offense through Mike and let him create shots for the rest of us."
The plan worked out well as St. Benedict's outscored the Friars 20-6 inside the paint and 12-0 on fast break points.
The Gray Bees were on the verge of blowing things open with a 37-21 lead at the 7:16 mark of the fourth quarter but lost their rhythm down the stretch.
"Coach Hurley went to a 2-1-2 at that point, which is a trapping man-zone, and it took us a little bit out of what we were doing," St. Benedict's Prep head coach Mark Taylor said. "There was about a minute there where we were out of sync on offense. He forced us out of sync and that's what St. Anthony does and what makes them such a good team."
Scoring all eight of his points in the final quarter, Brown helped St. Anthony cut the lead down to six points with just over two minutes to play. But St. Benedict's quickly responded with a 6-0 run causing Friar head coach Bob Hurley to yank his starters for the game's final minute.
"This was a great game for the state of New Jersey," Taylor said. "The crowd was great, the atmosphere was great and both teams played very hard. Both teams played great defense and this was one of those ugly games that's a great game."
St. Anthony's last loss came March 13, 2010 in a postseason game against Trenton Catholic Academy (Trenton)
. Since that defeat, the Friars have recorded back-to-back undefeated, national championship campaigns. The Friars' win streak was the longest in the nation and included a 51-50 victory last season against Friday night's conquerors.
St. Benedict's Prep, a program once coached by Hurley's son Danny (now head coach at Rhode Island), is an independent and doesn't belong to New Jersey's governing body for high school sports, the NJSIAA.
That means the next chapter in this budding rivalry will have to wait until next season.