METUCHEN - Michael Greenman of the St. Augustine Prep boys basketball team sank back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter to give the Hermits a two-point lead Saturday night.
Greenman and his teammates then dreamed of an upset of favored St. Joseph-Metuchen.
Meanwhile, 7-foot-1 Karl Towns got even more motivated.
St. Augustine's lead was brief. St. Joseph dominated from that point and won the South Jersey Non-Public A semifinal 80-39.
Second-seeded St. Joseph (24-4) will play fourth-seeded Paul VI for the South Jersey title on Tuesday. The Hermits finished the season 23-6.
Towns, a junior who has already verbally committed to Kentucky, scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked six shots.
"He's really big," Greenman said. "You go to the (basket) and you try to finish, but there's no getting around him."
Fans filled St. Joe's gym to watch a meeting of the last two state Non-Public A champions. St. Augustine won the title in 2011, while St. Joe won it last year.
Greenman's back-to-back 3-pointers gave St. Augustine a 16-14 lead with 4 minutes, 57 seconds left in the second quarter.
"You always go into a game thinking you're going to win," Greenman said. "When we went up 16-14, you think we have really good shot. You start getting momentum. You get pumped up."
The third-seeded Hermits quickly lost the lead but they stayed close the rest of the half. St. Augustine freshman Mike Vasturia scored off an inbound play with two seconds left in the first half. St. Joe led 24-18 at halftime.
"I thought we were in it," St. Augustine coach Paul Rodio said. "We were trying to slow the game down. It was working. We were fine."
But the Falcons began the third quarter with a 17-0 run to build a 41-18 lead with 3:23 left in the quarter.
"They're very good," Rodio said. "They got hot. Our game plan was to stay close going into the fourth quarter, but we didn't expect them to get as hot as they did."
Towns showed his versatility during the 17-0 run. He scored in the lane, sank a 3-pointer and then drove for a layup.
Towns said he was pumped up before the game because it was St. Joe's last home game of the season. All their future tournament game swill be played on a neutral site. He became even more pumped after the Hermits grabbed their brief lead.
"You don't want to be down in any game ever," Towns said. "I just told my team we had to pick it up. It was out seniors last home game no matter what happens and we wanted them to leave with a home victory."
St. Augustine went the first 4:50 of the third quarter without a basket. The Hermits struggled to get open for shots. When they were able to drive to the basket, they had to deal with Towns.
"You have to give credit to them," Greenman said. "They really picked up their defensive intensity. We either weren't ready for it or it was that good."
Towns is already a celebrity in the world of high school basketball. After the game, he posed for pictures with fans, including St. Augustine supporters.
The Hermits seemed to know they were beaten by a better team. St. Augustine didn't win a championship but it still had a memorable season.
Rodio, who is in his 36th season, became the winningest coach in South Jersey now has 781 career victories. Saturday was the 1,000th game he coached - another South Jersey record.
"I think we got a lot out of this group," Rodio said. "We won 23 games. There were ups and downs. We were a couple of points away from winning two or three more games. We assess it as a pretty good year."
Contact Michael McGarry:
St. Augustine - 8 10 8 13 - 39
St. Joseph - 12 12 32 24 - 80
SA - Sullivan 3 2-2 8, Greenman 2 1-2 7, Nelson 1 2-2 5, Rossell 2 0-0 4, Vasturia 2 0-0 4, Seward 1 2-2 4, Segal 1 0-0 3, Gatto 1 0-0 2, Warren 0 2-2 2, Kennedy 0 0-1 0, O'Neill 0 0-2 0. Totals-13 9-13 39.
SJ - Towns 10 4-6 25, Baldwin 7 3-4 17, Townes 6 2-4 15, Cicalise 3 0-0 7, Owen 2 0-0 5, Fitzpatrick 2 0-0 4, Brunson 1 0-0 3, Finan 1 0-0 2, Ashamole 0 2-2 2. Totals-32 11-17 80.
3-pointers - Greenman (2), Nelson, Segal SA. Towns, Townes, Cicalise, Owen, Brunson. SJ
Records - St. Augustine 23-6, St. Joseph Metuchen 24-4.
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