The return of junior guard Adrian Griffin, Jr to the Stepinac line-up was more than beneficial for the Crusaders in the Quarterfinals of the NYCHSAA Archdiocesan Tournament.
Griffin, who has committed to Duke University, had not seen game action since January 3, due to a knee injury. However, at 3:31 of the first quarter against Mount St. Michael Academy, the 6’ 7” 220 lbs. star guard took the court for the first time in 51 days.
Griffin was limited to 15 minutes of court action in the game for preventive measures. He played 14 minutes and notched a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds to help the number two-seed Crusaders defeat the number seven-seed Mountaineers, 99-62, in the Quarterfinals of the Archdiocesan Playoffs, on Sunday, at St. Raymond High School.
Stepinac’s first ever McDonald’s All American guard R.J. Davis led the scoring with his second triple-double this season. Davis dropped 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished 10 assists. Stepinac junior center Malcolm Chimezie added 13 points and four rebounds.
Stepinac bombarded Mount with three-point shots in the game. The Crusaders converted nine three pointers in the first half and 16 from beyond the arc in the game. Crusaders three-point specialist senior guard Luke Fizulich netted seven trifectas, while totaling 21 points.
Senior guard Matt Brand contributed 11 points and sophomore guard Samuel Gibbs stepped-up to score nine points, create six assists and snatch four rebounds. Fizulich, Brand and Gibbs were responsible for 13 of the Crusaders 16 three-pointers in the game.
Stepinac will face a very familiar foe when they match-up against the number three-seed Cardinal Hayes High School in the Semifinals, on Tuesday, at 6:00 P.M. at Mount St. Michael.
Stepinac has beaten the Cardinals the last three times they met, including twice this season and in the 2018-19 Intersectional Semifinals. Nonetheless, Stepinac versus Hayes is always a classic CHSAA basketball battle with even more intensity in the Playoffs.
The winner of Stepinac vs. Hayes will advance to play the winner of number one-seed St Raymond against number five-seed Monsignor Scanlan in the NYCHSAA Archdiocesan Championship, on Friday, February 29, at Mount. St. Michael.