PHILADELPHIA — The breakdown of the result for Archbishop Carroll Wednesday wasn't as bleak as the scoreboard would indicate.
The No. 3 Patriots won the battle on the glass. They limited the damage done by Miami commit Ja'Quan Newton, at least as much as the contributions of a player of his caliber can be minimized.
But the thing about a team as strong as Neumann-Goretti is that you can take away one or two things, but shutting the Saints down completely, well that doesn't happen very often.
With all other avenues blocked, the Saints nailed eight 3-pointers, leading them to a 67-62 win over Carroll in the Catholic League semifinals at the Palestra.
The win sets up a rematch between No. 2 Neumann and top-seeded Roman Catholic, which downed No. 4 La Salle, 52-45, in the other semifinal.
It's the third straight season the Patriots' tournament has crashed and burned in the semifinals. The win also guarantees the Saints a spot in the District 12 Class AAA title game to meet Public League AAA champ Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter. Carroll, which had sought to avenge a loss to the Saints in the regular season, drops to the Class AAA third-place game against Imhotep.
In that earlier meeting, Newton torched the Patriots to the tune of 29 points, often taking over in the isolation game. Wednesday, Samir Taylor and David Beatty bottled up Newton, at least for three quarters.
He entered the third with just eight points and finished with 15, with his three fourth-quarter baskets coming from two sensational up-and-under lay-ins and a slam over Taylor in which he added one at the free-throw line.
In the process, Newton became the all-time leading scorer in Neumann-Goretti history, eclipsing the 1,801 points of 1985 grad Steve Benton.
Through three quarters, though, it was clear the Saints' long-range shooting was the poison the Patriots had picked. And they paid dearly.
The Saints hit 8-of-13 looks from deep, including a 3-for-3 day from Vaughn Covington. Five of the seven Saints to hit the court drained triples.
"Ja'Quan is definitely the best scorer on the team, but when they're stopping him and taking him out of the game, everybody has to step up, and that's what we did," guard Lamarr Kimble said. "In the beginning, they were in the triangle-and-2, and Troy (Harper) and Vaughn and Quade (Green) all hit shots. That's how we got out of it. ... Our shots got better. Everybody shoots good on the team. They don't know that though."
Then in the fourth, with Carroll (20-3) trying to make up ground, the Saints opted to continue to attack instead of slowing the ball down.
That's where Newton (seven points in the fourth) and Kimble (six of his team-high 17) did their damage, coupled with just enough of a deterrent in the lane courtesy of Tony Toplyn (four blocks).
"It's a good feeling. We're not backing down," Kimble said. "So when they're making their run, we're right there making our run. They score; we get the ball back on offense and we're trying to score. It was up and down, but we felt that we could outrun them."
That threat of the Saints was so great that it took Carroll's biggest weapon out of the game. That wasn't Derrick Jones, who provided a quiet 11 points — including his 1,000th career point — on 3-for-13 shooting. And it wasn't Austin Tilghman, who lit up Neumann-Goretti for 25 last time but fouled out Wednesday midway through the fourth quarter after a quiet 11 points.
Instead, Ernest Aflakpui was the one who threatened to curtail Carroll's five-year losing streak to Neumann-Goretti.
Through three quarters, he dominated the glass with seven rebounds and scored 14 points. But he missed his final three shots in the third, then went without a shot attempt in the fourth quarter, confined to the bench for most of the frame as the Saints went with a five-guard look.
"It's tough when your team is losing and you can't help them," the 6-9 center said. "I know it was the right decision, and we had to go small because they had a lot of guards out there, but it's tough."
"We're trying to press and run around and do all those things," Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. "As much as I would've liked to have him out there, they were playing five guards. It's tough for us to have our 6-9 center out there then."
Absent their biggest edge in the game, Carroll could do no better than trade baskets with Goretti, a game it couldn't win. Taylor had eight of his 12 points in the fourth, and Beatty provided five of his seven points.
But with Tilghman on the bench and Jones held without a field goal for the second half, there was little Carroll could do.
A put-back from Beatty got Carroll even at 40, the seventh tie of the game. But just as they had to end the second quarter, the Saints compiled a quick 5-0 spurt, punctuated by Newton's step-back three with Taylor draped all over him that put him over Benton's mark.
In the fourth, Carroll just couldn't keep pace, the run stretching to 16-6 when Kimble went the length of the court for a contested lay-in to give the Saints their first double-digit lead of the game at 56-46. From there, they never looked back.