by Jody Kesseler

Friday night’s game between La Salle College High School and Father Judge was billed as a showdown between two teams locked in the chase for the Catholic League Championship.

La Salle’s Eddie Mitchell, however, decided that it was a chance for a personal showcase game in front of a huge crowd.  The Rider-bound senior scorched the Crusaders for 23 points, including five threes. It was his best shooting performance of the year and propelled the home team Explorers to a 55-43 win.

LaSalle played excellent defense in the win, holding Judge star Reggie Charles to eight points.  Judge was cold, shooting only 2-17 from three.  Steve Griffin did have a strong game for the Crusaders, with 19, but it was not enough.  LaSalle jumped out to an early 18-6 lead after one quarter.  They maintained that through the second quarter.  Judge managed only 3 points in the third quarter.  Although they tried a comeback in the fourth they ran out of time, LaSalle icing the game from the free throw line.

Mitchell started the game with a hoop.  He nailed a three halfway through the first quarter and then another as the buzzer sounded to put La Salle up by 12.

Judge played better in the second, matching LaSalle 13-13.  Mitchell stayed hot, with two more threes. LaSalle played very organized and disciplined ball, running sophisticated plays with crisp passes.  Amar Stukes threw a nice alley-oop to Mitchell.  It was 31-19 at the half.  The third quarter was all LaSalle.  Judge did not score until the final minute.  It was 38-22.  In the fourth quarter finally Charles got aggressive, but it was too late.  Judge took too many jumpers and they were not falling.  They were forced to foul LaSalle, as there is no shot clock in high school.

The game slowed down with all the fouls, Judge not giving up all the way to the end even though they had little chance.  Steve Collins backed Mitchell up with 13 points, including six from the charity stripe.

“This is a big game, you know it was a six-way tie (for second place), so this is a big win,” Mitchell said. “In practice I was making shots.  I felt good.  …  My team played well, unselfish and that’s why we got the win.  When we have our poise and play together we’re unstoppable.”

About what is means in the standings Mitchell said, “It puts us ahead in front of the race.  I just want to get to the Palestra and win a Philadelphia Catholic League championship.”

“It was a good win,” Brennan Woods, a senior captain said. “We needed to stay in the race with the other teams.  Focus is to win out, we’re focusing on defense, offense will take care of itself.  We have a lot of athletes.  It’s great when you have a team that likes each other.  We worked 1/3/1 tonight which worked well.  Matching up, get out to their shooters.”

“Definitely a good win,” said Joe Brown, who scored 11 for the Explorers. “They had a good record, close to us. We came out good to start.  A lot of our role players played well.”

LaSalle improved to 15-3 overall and 8-2 in the league.  Father Judge is now 14-4 and 8-3.

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