By Dave Krider
One of the nation’s biggest collisions of highly-ranked boys basketball teams ended up in a surprising rout as Elizabeth St. Patrick shocked previously unbeaten New Jersey rival Newark St. Benedict’s, 88-62, before a crowd of 4,000 Wednesday night at Rutgers University.
St. Patrick, ranked No. 7 in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25, raised its record to 16-2, while dropping No. 3 St. Benedict’s to 19-1. St. Benedict’s has an even bigger challenge Saturday when it travels to California to take on No. 1-ranked Santa Ana Mater Dei. Next week St. Patrick will have a shot at No. 2 Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).
The Celtics roared to a 45-25 halftime advantage and never looked back as they finished the contest with 26-of-44 shooting from the field. Guards Dexter Strickland (7-of-8), a senior, and junior Kyrie Irving dominated the game with 21 points apiece. They are unbeaten since Irving, a transfer, gained his eligibility to form the nation’s premier backcourt.
The Gray Bees were led by 6-9 junior Tristan Thompson and sophomore guard Myck Kabongo with 13 points each.
“St. Pat’s played great,” St. Benedict’s coach Dan Hurley told Mike Kinney of the Newark Star-Ledger. “This is the most embarrassing performance we’ve had since I’ve been here (eight years). The game meant more to them than us and their guard play dictated the way things were from the beginning.”
St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle said, “Obviously, I was surprised. You don’t think you’re going to beat St. Benedict’s by 30 points. I did think that there was a good chance that we could win by double digits because I thought our guards had some separation from their guards and I thought eventually that would take stock.”