Despite a fourth-quarter run by John Curtis, Catholic advanced to the championship game of the Crusader Invitational by defeating the Patriots 57-47 Friday at Conlin Gym.
With the win, the Bears will play the Brother Martin-Christian Life winner at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Catholic (13-3) ended the third period with a 38-22 lead and after Curtis (11-5) had a 10-0 scoring run to start the fourth, that lead was trimmed to 38-32.
That run was capped by Dontae Jones scoring with 6:05 left in the game.
“Really I thought the turning point for them, exploiting our flaws, was in the first quarter,” Catholic coach Mark Cascio said. “The first we were in a rhythm.”
Cascio said Curtis’ changing defenses aided its offense.
“They’re extremely athletic and they pressure the ball very well,” he said. “We handled it just well enough to win the game.”
Toliver Freeman led the Bears with 19 points while Michael Giorlando had 15. Ethan Treigle had 11.
For the Patriots, Kai Morgan led all scorers with 28 while Jones had 11.
“Our guys are pretty confident. We have an experienced group,” Cascio said. “I think once we were able to see the pressure and have some success against it, we knew it could be there if we made the right play. “
Catholic opened the game with a 9-0 lead and Jones scored Curtis’ first points when he sank a 3-pointer with 3:40 left in the first. Jordan Holmes then made one of two free throws that cut the lead to 9-4.
Curtis opened the second period with a 6-0 run that was capped by Morgan making a free throw to cut the lead to 12-10 with 5:08 left.
Morgan then made a layup with 2:54 left in the half that cut the lead to 17-15. That was followed by Catholic’s Michael Frankioni making a 3-pointer for a 20-15 lead with 2:35 left in the half.
Curtis coach Mike Krajcer said Friday’s game provided his team good experience against tough competition.
“Catholic is a very good team,” he said. “When you play a team like that, you have to stay focused. Also this is preseason so you have to stay focused on that, on doing things that’s going to get you to the end of the rainbow.”
Krajcer said this was the time to learn little things such as calling timeouts when trailing and making free throws so his players can practice them in the playoffs.
“We’re still a work in progress. We’re very young,” he said. “Really, we don’t have a lot of experience. That comes back to bite you sometimes, lack of experience. You can’t teach experience.
“You can teach all the other things.”