Nativity flexes muscles against Colts
There’s a reason why the Nativity boys’ basketball team is currently ranked as the No. 1 Class A team in Pennsylvania.
The Hilltoppers are the defending Schuylkill League, District 11 and PIAA state champions - and are loaded with veteran players who were a part of those titles.
For one quarter of play Monday evening, Marian seemed to be pushing all the right buttons. But the Colts upset hopes were quickly dashed once the Hilltoppers got their wheels rolling.
Riding the play of 6-6 senior Marques Radcliff, do-it-all classmate Cody Miller, and a great supporting cast, Nativity stayed perfect in Schuylkill League Division 3 with a resounding 71-51 victory.
Ratcliff stormed past the Colts defense for 27 points, and was a monster on the boards with a game-high 14 rebounds. Miller dipped in the well for 11 points. Also contributing to the attack were freshmen Ty Kaunas (nine points), Ben Sipe (eight points), and Julius Walborn (seven points).
The win improved Nativity’s record to 11-3, while Marian falls to 3-2 in the league, and 7-4 overall.
“We were far from perfect,” said Hilltopper coach Mike Walborn. “We missed too many layups in the first half (eight by his count). But you have to understand, these kids have been playing together for a long time, so they know where they are at all times.”
Marian coach John Patton was impressed with what he saw.
“They’re a well-groomed, seasoned team,” said Patton about Nativity. “They know where they’re at all the time, know where they should be. That’s something we’re learning all the time.”
The Colts seemed jacked for the occasion, scurrying in front 17-13 as they rode the hot hand of post player Brendan Lonergan, who scored six of his 16 points at the onset.
Smooth guard Julius Currie added a pair of triples for the Colts in the opening quarter.
“That was a positive for us.” Patton said about the start.
But the Hilltoppers were just getting warmed up, and started to fuel the tank courtesy of a 14-4 second-quarter run, which resulted in a 38-27 lead at the half.
Ratcliff led the second-quarter charge, as he accounted for 14 of his team’s 25 points in the period.
Logan Fritz, who was tough all evening for Marian, poured in six of his team-high 16 points in the second quarter to keep the Colts within range.
But the Hilltoppers continued to widen the spread in the third quarter as Miller opened with a quick five-point flurry, and Ratcliff scored four more points to make it 53-36 heading into the fourth.
“They’re such a good team,” said Patton. “We kept grinding, and our kids never backed away. But give Nativity credit. They never let us get back in it.”
IMPRESSIVE … The Hilltoppers are a tough team to contend with. They’ve got great court awareness, are quick, and have plenty of weapons around Ratcliff to help keep opposing defenses honest.
BIG SHOTS … Nativity shot 26-for-48 (54%) from the floor, while Marian went 22-for-49 (45%).
UP NEXT … The Colts play tonight at Lourdes in a Schuylkill League crossover game
TOUGH SCHEDULE ... Nativity has played a challenging nonleague schedule this season. The Hilltoppers, who lost this past weekend to Bethlehem Catholic on a buzzer-beating three-pointer, will face defending PIAA Class 4A champion Allentown Central Catholic in the opening game of a doubleheader at the PPL Center in Allentown.
BIG NAME ... The nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader will feature LeBron James’ son, Bronny James, and his Sierra Canyon (Calf.) team taking on Camden, New Jersey.
Ratcliff 11-5-8-27, C. Miller 4-1-2-11, Kaunas 4-0-0-9, Sipes 3-2-4-8, Walborn 1-4-4-7, J. Miller 3-0-2-6, Sickle 1-1-2-3, Reilly 0-0-0-0, Fehart 0-0-0-0, Quirk 0-0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 27-13-22-71,
Fritz 6-2-2-16, Lonergan 8-0-4-16, Currie 3-0-0-9, Walko 2-0-0-4, Valente 1-0-0-2, Ramirez 0-2-2-2, Bobish 1-0-0-2. J. Rodino 0-0-0-0, Price 0-0-0-0, Trifiro 0-0-0-0, Ja. Rodino 0-0-0-0, Espaillot-Turbi 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-4-8-51
Nativity 13 25 15 18 – 71
Marian 17 10 9 15 – 51
Three-pointers: Nativity - C. Miller 2, Kaunas 1, Walborn 1. Marian - Currie 3, Fritz 2.