Class 3A Boys Basketball: Phillips’ Jumper Lifts Sem Past Redeemer In Title Game

March 1, 2019 GMT

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Holy Redeemer scored, and then Wyoming Seminary scored. And then Redeemer scored ... and Sem answered once again. The District 2 Class 3A finalists went back-and-forth the entire third quarter Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. “We knew this was going to be a war,” said Sem head coach Pete Moses. The thrilling rubber match between rivals that split their two-game series in the regular season ended with the biggest shot of Todd Phillips’ career, as the Sem junior hit a jump shot that put the Blue Knights ahead for good, 48-47, earning them a district title to go with their division and conference championships. “Anyone is able to take that last shot,” Phillips said. “It just so happened that it ended up falling in my hands. But anyone who takes that shot, we have full confidence they’ll make it.” Neither team ever had much breathing room, although No. 2 Redeemer, who led the vast majority of the night, had the game’s biggest lead of 19-12 early in the second quarter. However, No. 1 Sem (25-2) ended the half on an 8-2 run, holding Redeemer to only four points in the second quarter. “I went in that locker room and I said, ‘Guys, that’s the way we want to play defense,’” recalled Moses, whose Blue Knights trailed by a point at halftime. “I was real confident at halftime that we had turned it around defensively.” Redeemer freshman Justice Shoats opened the third quarter with a layup for two of his team-high 19 points. But Dimitri Gnall came back with a jumper for two of his team-high 19 points for Sem. Gnall added 10 rebounds for a double-double. That pattern — Redeemer score, Sem score — happened six times total in the third quarter. Redeemer was able to add a point to its lead, though, because Redeemer had two 3-point plays (a Shoats layup-and-one, a Collin Cook 3) compared with Sem’s one such play (a 3-pointer from Phillips). The Royals held a 35-33 edge going into the fourth. Sem finally regained a 46-45 lead with 2 minutes, 36 seconds to play, when Gnall had his shot blocked, but Phillips gathered the rebound. Phillips kicked back to Gnall and the 1,000-point senior drove hard to the hoop, fighting through traffic to lay in the go-ahead bucket. “The guys on my team are studs,” Moses said. “They made plays at the end of the game. They want the ball. These guys like Todd Phillips and these guys that don’t recognized as all-stars, I hope everybody watched this game tonight. I’ve got five all-stars on this team.” That 46-45 Sem lead lasted only a few moments, though, because Shoats drove right back at the Blue Knights and made a layup of his own to put Redeemer back ahead. “They’ve got some great players on that team, they’ve got a great coaching staff,” Moses said of Redeemer. “We’re just happy we came out on the right end of this one.” Sem’s game-winning possession was not without some drama, when Phillips bobbled a pass from guard Jake Koretz. As the clock ticked under 30 seconds to play, Phillips was in a footrace with Redeemer’s Cook for the ball. Phillips got the ball, passed to the left wing to Jeremy Callahan, who kicked it right back to Phillips. Phillips dribbled once and approached the foul line, putting up a jumper that rattled through the hoop with 23 seconds left. “They just want the ball at the end of the game,” Moses said. “They want the basketball. Those are the guys I want to coach.” Redeemer created some tension in the final few seconds, missing a 3-pointer, but also stealing an inbound pass and calling timeout with 0.7 seconds left. Redeemer did not get off a final shot before the buzzer, signaling the second straight district championship for Sem. Both teams advance to the state tournament and will play in the first round Saturday, March 9. Phillips finished with 16 points, while Callahan added seven. Redeemer center Nick Prociak had a double-double on 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jared Piontkowski tallied six points and eight boards. Contact the writer: mbufano@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter