Tuesday's game at Archbishop Carroll high school featured two of the most storied programs in the Washington DC metro area. Both teams entered the game ranked in the metro top 10, with DeMatha (#6) slightly ahead of Archbishop Carroll (#8). DeMatha spent the first half of the season ranked in ESPN's boy's top 25 but fell out earlier in the week.
Archbishop Carroll pulled off the modest upset with a 70-61 win. After gaining the lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Fighting Lions methodically controlled the game to the finish line behind the dominant play of Syracuse bound forward Kris Joseph, who scored 25 points and ripped down 14 rebounds.
Joseph pulls down one of his 14 rebounds against DeMatha.
DeMatha opened up an early 6-2 led with JR swingman Naji Hibbert connecting on his first two attempts from beyond the arc. Hibbert is a highly regarded prospect in his own right and looked fantastic throughout the first quarter of the game. His body build and smooth perimeter shooting stroke bring to mind former Kentucky great Tony Delk, but Hibbert wore down appreciably as the game progressed and he struggled to finish strong after playing very well in the first half. He finished with 13 points, but 12 of them came in the game's first dozen minutes.
Archbishop Carroll struggled to keep pace with Hibbert getting off to the good start. They had only scored 2 points in the game's first 4 minutes before Joseph started to get more aggressive. His first field goal came on a beautiful high post move where he caught the ball near the foul line, executed a slick spin dribble, then drained a 13 foot fadeaway.
The basket gave the Lions a bit of life, and they eventually got back into the game, as Joseph followed up his fadeaway with a tough drive to the basket and bank shot in traffic. He drew the foul on opposing defender Kenny Tate, the tremendous athlete and four star wide-receiver on DeMatha's football team. Tate is known as a terrific defender, but he had his hands full and was in foul trouble all night trying to guard Joseph.
Kris Joseph fronts Naji Hibbert in the post.
DeMatha responded with a basket from Hibbert, who tipped in a missed shot over Joseph to give his team a 16-13 lead, but Joseph returned the favor with a tip-in of his own just before the 1st quarter buzzer sounded. This basket served as the catalyst for a 10-2 Archbishop Carroll run, giving them a 23-18 lead mid-way through the 2nd quarter.
The most impressive thing about Joseph in this game was that he showed a great deal of patience and poise throughout. Rather than forcing bad shots and passes, he constantly surveyed the defense and calmly picked out the weaknesses. He threw a number a beautiful passes and was great at finding the cutter from the foul-line extended area. Unfortunately, his teammates never seemed to make the shots he set them up for, but in almost every occasion his passes helped to break down the defense and led to an eventual score.
Once the Lions took the lead, they never surrendered it. DeMatha seemed to hover between 3 and 8 points down, but each time that they threatened, Joseph or teammates Blake Tice and Rodney McGruder would make plays to keep them at bay. Joseph had an excellent segment in the middle of the 2nd quarter when he sped down the court to retrieve a pass that was lobbed a good 20 feet ahead of him, then showed off some flexibility and coordination in gaining control and scoring on a reverse lay-up. The catch and body shift came all in one smooth motion, quite an impressive feat for a 6-7/6-8 player. He then had another tip-in basket and followed that up by immediately getting back on defense to collect back-to-back blocked shots against DeMatha's Josh Selby.
After pouring in 15 first half points to help give the Lions a lead, Joseph turned his attention in the second half to defense. Most of his offense in the second half came from the free throw line, where connected on all 9 of his shot attempts on the evening. In the second half he pulled down 9 rebounds and added 4 more blocked shots, seemly making a play every time Archbishop Carroll needed him.
A Marcus Rouse 3-point play with 5:32 left in the game cut the Carroll lead to just 2 at 48-46, but Joseph responded by snaring a tough defensive rebound, then went coast to coast, weaving through a sea of defenders to finish with a finger roll. The play exhibited his good body control and ability to adjust in midair to avoid the charge. A three-point play by Blake Tice on the ensuing possession gave the Lions a 7 point lead and the game was effectively over after that.
Join us tomorrow for 2nd half of OrangeNation's Kris Joseph review.