BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Blake Rossell played like a starter Thursday night.
The senior forward came off the bench to score 15 points to spark the St. Augustine Prep boys basketball team to a 60-48 win over Christian Brothers Academy in a South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinal.
The third-seeded Hermits (23-5) will play second-seed and defending state champion St. Joseph Metuchen (Middlesex County) in the semifinals 7 p.m. Saturday.
"It's the playoffs," Rossell said. "You can't worry about who's starting. You have to go out there and give 100 percent no matter if you get 2 minutes or 30 minutes."
The 6-foot-6 Rossell started most of the season. But the Hermits made a recent lineup change and Rossell now comes off the bench. He didn't pout when the move was made. The change didn't affect Rossell's energy or effort on the court.
"It was a little different coming off the bench," Rossell said. "But you can't think about that in games like this. All you can worry about is playing as a team."
The Hermits needed a lift before Rossell entered the game. Sixth-seeded CBA had scored six straight points and led 8-4 when Rossell came into the game in the first quarter and scored nine straight points for the Hermits.
Rossell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored for his first basket. His next three baskets also came on shots in the lane.
"After the first basket, I was feeling a lot of energy," Rossell said. "I just wanted to keep going."
Rossell's play seemed to shake the Hermits out of the doldrums.
Still, CBA stayed close until late in the third quarter when the Hermits took control with a 14-0 run that turned a two-point lead with 1 minute, 24 seconds left in the third quarter into a 52-36 lead with 3:55 left in the game.
St. Augustine guard Mike Greenman (13 points, six assists) began the run with a 3-point shot. He finished the surge with a steal and layup.
Greenman also had three assists during the stretch - all passes to fellow guard David Sullivan for fast-break layups.
Sixth-seeded CBA (16-9) went nearly six minutes without a basket in the second half.
"We're at our best when we're pushing the ball," Greenman said. "But that all starts with the defense. If you get a stop and get a clean rebound, you can keep pushing and pushing the ball. If we're playing our game, that's when we get easy buckets and we can go on a run."
Saturday's semifinal will feature the last two state Non-Public A champions. St. Augustine won the title in 2011.
St. Joe Metuchen (23-4) is one of the state's top teams. The Falcons feature 7-foot junior Karl Towns, who has already verbally committed to the University of Kentucky.
Saturday will be the 1,000th game for St. Augustine coach Paul Rodio, who is in his 36th season.
"They're more talented than us," Rodio said of St. Joe. "But I'm not big on moral victories. We're not going up there to come close. We'll put a plan together. Somebody is going to upset somebody before this thing is over why not us?"
Note: With the win, St. Augustine Prep got a little bit of payback as CBA had elminated the Hermits in the state wrestling and swimming playoffs and in the Gordon Cup ice hockey playoffs earlier this month.
Contact Michael McGarry:
Christian Brothers 12 16 8 12-48
St. Augustine 15 15 11 19-60
CBA-Pillari 7 4-5 20, Kennedy 5 3-4 14, Andree 4 0-0 8, Laffey 2 2-2 6, Neller 0 0-2 0. TOTALS-18 9-13 48.
SA-Rossell 7 1-1 15, Greenman 4 2-3 13, Sullivan 4 3-6 11, Vasturia 3 4-4 10, Seward 2 2-3 6, Gatto 1 2-2 4, Nelson 0 1-2 1. TOTALS-21 15-21 60.
3-pointers-Pillari (2), Kennedy CBA; Greenman (3) SA.
Records-CBA 16-9, Prep 23-5.
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