Forward Moustapha Diagne registered 18 points and 14 rebounds Friday night to lead Pope John to a convincing 76-47 win over Hackettstown in the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex boys basketball title game at Vernon High School. It’s the fourth straight county title for the Lions (24-3). Diagne was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
As TCA set the tone for the game by outscoring the Irish, 23-10, in the first quarter, Powell, a 6-2 junior guard, hit three 3-point field goals and 6-6 senior guard Malachi Richardson drained two more. By the end of that quarter, Powell, who finished with 18 points, had nine and Richardson, who led the Iron Mikes with 19, had eight. “Malachi and I missed our first threes, but then the shots started to fall,” Powell said. “After that, I felt good like I did against Ewing (in the MCT semifinal Wednesday when he scored 31 points).”
During the absence of the Knights star player, Tyus Battle, who sat out the first 14 games with a foot injury, Mea answered the calling and began to carry his team on offense. With Battle once again sidelined after reaggravated his foot injury during Gill St. Bernard’s match up against St. Benedict’s on Wednesday, Mea returned to his role as the floor general, on his way to 16 points on the night. The seniors performance helped the Knights overcome Ridge in the Somerset County Tournament final, beating the Red Devils, 48-39.
The Panthers cut the lead, tying the game on Franklin Howard’s 3-pointer with 1:15 left. The Panthers took the lead shortly after when Evans slipped and fell, losing the ball. Paul VI got the loose ball and V.J. King dunked it for a 53-51 lead with 52.1 seconds to go. Paul VI had one more chance, but a last-second shot by Howard hit the side of the backboard. The Panthers were led by King’s game-high 20 points and Howard’s 16. “We knew where the ball was going to go and who it was going to go to,” Cape Henry coach Mark Hall said about the ball going to Howard.
Our No. 1 junior prospect, Harry Giles showed off his versatility and competitiveness in the independent school state playoffs. Prospect: Harry Giles. High School Team: High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Ranking: No. 1 (Class of 2016). Recruitment: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Kansas, others.