Goretti will play in the championship game tonight at 8 against Bishop O’Connell (Va.), which won the first semifinal 83-59 over St. Paul’s.
“We’ll have to be strong and take care of the basketball,” said Goretti coach Amrit Rayfield of the challenge ahead for the Gaels. “You just don’t want to get to the championship and that’s it. (O’Connell) has size, athletes and guys that defend and attack.”
It is the second straight trip to the final and the third in five years for Goretti (2-1), which lost to Benedictine (Va.) in the final in 2010.
Goretti and Bishop Walsh (0-1) came out firing 3-pointers. Pat Jones hit three for Bishop Walsh and Yannick Zanfack hit a pair for Goretti, which led 16-12 after the first period.
Liam Rhodes hit his only two 3-pointers to give BW a 22-21 lead at the 5:20 mark of the third quarter, but Tyrus Fleetwood responded with a triple.
BW took the lead back 25-24 but the Gaels answered with consecutive goals by Forrest Buterbaugh and two by Martinas Geben — a sophomore from Lithuiania making his home debut. That gave the Gaels a 30-25 lead with 3:05 remaining, and the teams went scoreless the remainder of the half.
In the first two-plus minutes of the third quarter, Goretti broke the game open with an 8-0 run on buckets by Zanfack, Geben and Fleetwood for a 41-26 lead with 5:56 on the clock.
“We took some quick shots,” said Rayfield, noting how the Gaels lost their early lead. “Later we got some open looks off our defense.”
Geben led the Gaels with 20 points, Fleetwood added 13 and Zanfack had 11 along with a team-leading 11 rebounds.
“(Geben) plays big at both ends of the floor,” Rayfield said.
Jones led Bishop Walsh with 17 points.
An early spurt by Bishop O’Connell was the difference against St. Paul’s in the opener.
Sophomore Melo Trimble, a 6-foot-2 guard, came out blazing from the field and had 10 first-quarter points as the Knights took a 23-10 lead after eight minutes.
St. Paul rallied to cut the gap to 36-32 late in the second quarter, as Lamont Wade scored six points. Trimble scored five in the frame as O’Connell went into halftime up 39-32.
Trimble hit two goals and O’Connell outscored St. Paul’s 8-2 coming out of the locker room to take a 47-34 lead in the third quarter.
Trimble led O’Connell with 31 points, junior Rashard Kelly added 13, junior Will Ferguson had 11 and freshman Leroy Butts had 10 for the Knights.
“(Trimble) is a little herky-jerky,” said O’Connell coach Joe Wootten in praise. “He’s got a great change of speed and direction. We’ve got some young players but with experience from last year.”
St. Paul’s was led by Wade’s 16 points and 14 from Tanner Brooks.