Every basketball team who ever played in the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) wants to make it to the final game which is played in the greatest basketball arena in the world, the Palestra, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for nearly a century. Only two teams get the opportunity in what many experts feel is, if not the best, then one of the best high school leagues in the nation.
On Monday, February 26, the Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast Friars, better known as Bonner, faced off against the longtime power Roman Catholic Cahillites. It was the Friars against the Cahillites for the big prize in front of a throbbing throng of devoted fans and among the more sedate alumni that always attend this big event.
The Friars were No. 1 all season with a record of 21-4. They led at half 25-23 but had turned the ball over 11 times against the tough and suffocating defense of the Cahillites.
The game stayed very close throughout with ten ties and ten lead changes. It came down to the very end, when it was tied at 49, when Roman head coach Matthew Griffin decided to hold for the last shot with just over a minute remaining. Sometimes a move that can backfire, the young coach rolled the dice.
Louie Wild and Seth Lundy held the ball for most of the minute and then Lynn Greer III (one of the three generations of great Lynn Greer ball players) received the pass out top. At 8.4, Greer III made his move with a crossover dribble to the left side. He was guarded closely by the league MVP and outstanding athlete Isaiah Wong. Receiving a screen from Lundy allowed him to incorporate that cross and move to the left side with a penetration, but he was met by a secondary defender.
What Bonner was not expecting was a savvy weak side pass to the lurking Hakim Hart, who quickly made the winning layup at 1.1 seconds remaining. Jack Concannon, the head coach of Bonner, smartly asked for a timeout.
Much like Nick Foles in the “Philly Special,” Hart was playacting that he was not involved in the action which will go down in PCL lore, shall we call it the “Cahill Caper.” Chaos ensued for a brief moment as the large security force, trained specifically to stop the crowd from entering the court, thought the game had ended and charged forward.
Head referee Joe Anhalt quickly regained control, awarded the TO and added a half second, but to no avail as Bonner tried a long full-court pass by Michael Perretta to superior leaper Ajiri Johnson at the opposite foul line. It was tipped by Lundy and grabbed by Louie Wild, and the game was over. The Cahillites had defeated the Friars in an exciting thriller.
Great play by league MVP Isaiah Wong (being observed by none other than Jay Wright of Villanova), especially in the second half, should be noted. Wong came to life by using all his ball handling and penetration skills to draw a number of fouls. He had been cold shooting in the first half, but still ended the game with 18 points.