Stepinac’s Demarcus Miller Scores 20 Points in a 70-64 Win Over Iona Prep

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In a crowded gym filled with screaming fans from two rival catholic boys high schools on Friday night the Stepinac Crusaders came together as a team to knock off the Iona Prep Gaels 70-64 to improve their record to 7-1.

For those in attendance at Iona Prep on Friday night the gym had a feel of the movie Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman. The gym was packed past its capacity and the student bodies of both schools shouted chants to each other from across the court though out the game.

Crusaders head coach Tim Philp throughout this young season has emphasized that every game his team will play will be a substantial challenge. There are no easy games on their schedule.

The Gaels lived up to Philip’s prediction. They threw everything at the Crusaders including the kitchen sink in an effort to come through with a victory on their home floor. During the game every time the Crusaders looked like they had complete control the Gaels would cause a turnover or two and knock down a 3-point shot.

Friday was junior guard Naim Thomas’ first game of the season. He has been missing in action because of an ankle injury. The junior was a factor in this game right from the opening tip, many times bringing the ball up the court against an intense Gaels defensive pressure.

After the first quarter ended the Crusaders clung to a one-point lead 13-12. Forward Andrew Murray and guard Josh James each had four points in the opening quarter. Thomas added a 3-point shot. This quarter could have been very advantageous for the Crusaders because the Gaels turned the ball over six times, but they were only able to hit five of 15 shots from the floor.

During the second quarter the Crusaders were more effective on offense hitting eight of 17 shots. Sophomore Demarcus Miller who came off the bench on Friday night had a break out quarter leading his team with nine points in the quarter. The Crusaders went into the locker room at halftime with a 33-30 advantage.

One of the reasons why the Gaels were able to stand toe to toe with the Crusaders in the first half was the fact they knocked down five 3-point bombs from beyond the arc.

Walter King also played an important role for the Crusaders in the second quarter by hitting three baskets. James had two points in the quarter and Thomas had one. Decker was all over the boards ripping down five rebounds in the quarter.

At the end of the third quarter the Crusaders doubled their lead to six points 48-42. In this quarter the Gaels went on a mini surge and for a grand total of 53 seconds they held a one-point advantage. The Gaels might have held the lead longer but they had problems with the Crusaders’ defense. Thomas had five points and King four points and three rebounds in the quarter.

In the final quarter of play the Gaels offense was electrifying and they lit up the scoreboard like an old fashioned pinball machine scoring a total of 22 points during the quarter. The only problem for the Gaels was their foe the Crusaders matched their point accumulation point by point and they were only able to trim their deficit down to five points.

After the game Philp felt that if his team hit more free throws they would have won by more.

“If we hit our foul shots it wouldn’t have been close at the end,” said Philp. “Every game is going to be close. That’s the make up of the league.”

Miller finished the game with the team-high 20 points and nine points in the final quarter.

“I felt good. Once I made that first shot it was like keep going. Keep getting my teammates involved. Keep getting rebounds. Keep going back up strong,” said Miller after the game.

He feels the Crusaders are headed in the right direction and have improved from the team they were earlier in the season.

“We’re progressing a lot. We’re much better than we were a couple of weeks ago,” said Miller about the Crusaders.

James contributed seven points in the final quarter including hitting five of six shots from the free throw line. He finished the game with 17 points. Thomas made four shots from the line in the fourth quarter to give him 13 points in the game, which is a wonderful number in his first outing of the 2012-2013 season. King also finished the game in double-figures scoring 10 points.

This week the Crusaders will take part in the annual Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center. On Friday afternoon they will play Mahopac and New Rochelle against St. Mary’s of Manhasset that night. The winners of these two games will play on Saturday night while the losers will face off in the afternoon.


Stepinac B Team

The Crusaders B team lost two games this week and currently have a record of 3-5. On Monday they lost 72-35 to Christ The King B. Justin Tomas led his team with 12 points.

Two days later they lost an overtime thriller to Holy Cross B squad 62-52. Sterling Lovelock had 15 points and eight rebounds. Thomas had 10 points and Michael Teelan led the team tearing down 12 rebounds.

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