Tuesday, February 27, 2018

NVL TOURNEY ANALYSIS: Hearts and Crusaders get to final

Marcellus Gomes of Holy Cross and Jessah Doctor (11) of WCA
go up for a rebound during Monday's NVL semifinal at Wilby.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
It'll be No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the NVL boys tournament final on Wednesday night at Wilby's Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium.
Top-seeded Sacred Heart turned what was just a five-point lead in the third quarter into a 67-43 victory over No. 5 Crosby. The Hearts used stingy defense, transition offense and the silky shooting of Raheem Solomon (game-high 27 points) and Isiah Gaiter (21) to run away with the win and make their fourth straight final. Markeese Days led Crosby with 15.
Second-seeded Holy Cross needed all 32 minutes to dispatch third-seeded WCA 61-54 in the first semifinal of the night on George Tirado Court. DeAndre Wallace had a game-high 20 points, but 14 of those came in the first half, including his 1,000th career point. In the second half, the Crusaders got 10 points from Jack Greene and eight from Mikey West. Great passing on the offensive end, and better defense, helped Holy Cross get past a pesky WCA. The Spartans were led by 15 points from Jadan Battle, 14 from Matt Torres (4 3-pointers) 11 from Marquan Watson.
In the final, Holy Cross will have the unenviable task of trying to contain Solomon and Gaiter. No one has really been able to in the NVL this season, and the Crusaders have to do so in order to have a chance to win. More defense like the kind displayed in the fourth quarter against WCA would certainly be good for Holy Cross.
For Sacred Heart, more of the same from Solomon and Gaiter would be great, but the Hearts must also work to keep Wallace and company (Greene, Nyzair Rountree, Marcellus Gomes) off the offensive glass. Sacred Heart must also deny Holy Cross penetration and passing lanes.  
Ball-handling will be another big key. Sacred Heart looks to turn any mistake into transition points, and Holy Cross cannot give the top seed extra opportunities.
The top seeds in the NVL square off Wednesday at 7 p.m. It should be a fun game.

PHOTOS: Click here to see my images from the Holy Cross-WCA game.

STORIES: Here's what I wrote for the Rep-Am, and here's what Joe Palladino had to say about Sacred Heart-Crosby.

VIDEO: Go to The Zone for Palladino's highlights from the two semifinal games.

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