By Todd Orondenker
After one half, undermanned and undersized Academy Park was within two points of mighty Roman Catholic. But it came with a price.
Four players had three personal fouls. Two others had two. This thing was only going to last for so long. The Cahillites made sure of it.
Roman dominated the second half and ran away with a 73-58 victory over the Knights in the first round of the Class AAAA PIAA tournament Saturday at St. Joseph’s Prep. Academy Park, in the state tournament for the first time in 17 years, closes its terrific season at 20-8.
A 34-32 deficit at halftime surprised many in the packed gym at 17th and Girard. Pesky Academy Park shot the ball well, saw Roman Catholic (23-4) miss free throws and survived despite a plethora of foul issues. The second half was a different story.
“Foul trouble caught up with us in the third quarter,” Academy Park coach Allen Brydges said. “We had to play some different lineups and some really small lineups and they hurt us in the third quarter with their size. But these kids battled, they’re so tough. They play every possession hard — you saw in the first half how they can play with everybody.”