EGG HARBOR CITY - St. Joseph High School boys basketball forward B.J. Mitchell and his teammates eased some recent bad memories with a 70-69 win over host Cedar Creek on Monday.
Mitchell, a sophomore, scored St. Joe's last six points in the final minute, including the game-winning free throw with no time left on the clock.
Mitchell's score off a rebound of Val Vadino's missed 3-pointer tied the game. Mitchell was fouled on the play and with the clock showing 0:00, he made a foul shot to give the Wildcats the win.
St. Joseph improved to 9-10 overall and 7-5 in the Cape-Atlantic League United Division. Cedar Creek fell to 12-7 (8-4).
The Wildcats were coming off consecutive losses to Hammonton, Wildwood Catholic and, most recently, Sacred Heart 61-60 on Thursday. Mitchell had a shot blocked as he tried to win the Sacred Heart game.
"It felt good to win (Monday)," said Mitchell, 16, who lives in the Sicklerville section of Winslow Township. "I went up and grabbed it off the rim and put it in. The last game against Sacred Heart (turned out differently). Today was a tough game, and we knew we had to keep playing (hard)."
St. Joseph was led by shooting guard Charlie Riccardi, who hit six 3-pointers and finished with 34 points. Riccardi scored 16 points in the second quarter.
"My teammates were getting me the ball," said Riccardi, a 17-yeaRicccardir-old junior from Mullica Hill. "Both teams played really well today, and it was good to get the win."
Mitchell scored 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. LaQuay Brown added 10 points for the winners.
St. Joseph had the lead 17 times, including the final result, and the Pirates led 14 times. The game was tied eight times.
"We've had three difficult losses in a row, and it's pretty big the way our guys turned things around," St. Joseph coach Tim Gallagher said. "I'm really proud of them for taking the challenge."
Cedar Creek's Caleb Graves scored 18 points, including six in the fourth quarter. Damon Mitchell and Jacob Knight had 16 and 14 points, respectively, for the Pirates.
"St. Joseph plays hard, and they're very well-coached," Cedar Creek coach Phil Schaffer said. "They're very underrated.
"It was good high school basketball game, very intense and competitive. There's never any question about our heart or intensity. My job is to put them in position to win, and we're slowly building to what we want to do at Cedar Creek."
The first quarter ended at 16-16. Riccardi hit a trio of 3-pointers in the second quarter. Riccardi and Brown hit consecutive field goals in the final minute before halftime, and the Wildcats led 34-31 at intermission.
Cedar Creek's Jon Newman hit a 3-pointer and Damon Mitchell added a tip-in to start the third quarter and the Pirates led 36-34. The teams each grabbed the lead three more times in the quarter. With four seconds left in the third quarter, Riccardi drove up the middle for a basket and added a foul shot to give St. Joe its fourth lead of the quarter at 52-51.
The Pirates came right back for a 61-57 lead with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left to play with a 10-5 run. Graves, Damon Mitchell, Matt Dennis, Jon Newman and Knight each hit a field goal for Cedar Creek. But baskets by B.J. Mitchell and John Todoro tied it at 61-61 for St. Joe.
Knight and Damon Mitchell each scored for the Pirates, and it was 65-61, but Riccardi hit his final 3-pointer to make it 65-64 with 1;30 left. Graves and B.J. Mitchell exchanged baskets and the Pirates led 67-66 with 56 seconds left.
B.J. Mitchell tied it at 67 by making the second of two foul shots with 21 seconds on the clock. Graves sank both ends of a 1-and-1 foul shot situation with 13 seconds left to put Cedar Creek ahead 69-67. Then came B.J. Mitchell's three-point play.
St. Joseph 16 18 18 18-70
Cedar Creek 16 15 20 18-69
SJ-L. Ordille 1 0-0 2, Todoro 2 0-0 4, B.J. Mitchell 6 3-5 15, Davis 1 0-0 3, Riccardi 11 6-9 34, Brown 5 0-3 10. Totals-26 9-17 70.
CC-Knight 6 1-1 14, C. Newman 1 1-2 3, Graves 6 5-7 18, Seward 1 0-0 3, Damon Mitchell 7 0-0 16, Dennis 2 2-2 6, J. Newman 4 0-0 9. Totals-27 9-12 69.
3-pointers-Riccardi (6), Davis SJ. Damon Mitchell (2), J. Newman, Knight, Graves, Seward CC.
Records-S.J. 9-10; C.C. 12-7.
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