St. John's used a 29-point performance from forward Mark Pitchford to defeat Archbishop Carroll of Rednor, Pa. 62-53, last night and advance to today's championship game of the 22d annual Knights of Columbus basketball tournament at D.C. Armory.
St. John's will meet the winner of last night's West Philadelphia vs. McKinley game in todays 3:45 p.m. title game.
With top rebounder 6-foot-10 center Justin Ellis, in foul trouble most of the game, the Cadets desperately needed the jump shooting ot Pitchford. The 6-4 senior responded.
Pitchford threw in 11 points to spark the Cadets to a 45-40 lead going into the final eight minutes after St. John's trailed, 32-30, at half.
In between Pitchford jumped shots, Carroll was losing the ball seven times and scoring only three field goals in the nightmarish third quarter.
The Cadets showed in the fourth quarter why they are considered one of the best free-shooting teams in the area. Each time Carroll made a run at St. John's, Pitchford, Dennis Dempsey or any other grey-shirted Cadet would step to the line and drop in a free throw.
A layup by Carroll's Walter Jackson closed the deficit to 53-49 with 2:30 to play. Pitchford was fouled on St. John's next trip down the court and sank two from the stripe to put St. John's ahead, 55-49.
Seconds later, Dennis Dempsey added another free throw and the Cadets had a seven-point lead, 56-49.
St. John's had taken an early 18-12 advantage before Ellis got in foul trouble.
Carroll's jumping-jack twins, Jackson and Edgar Carlis, then began pounding the boards and scoring inside. Each scored six points in the second period as the Patriots eased ahead, 32-30.
With nine seconds gone in the third quarter, Ellis went to the bench with his fourth foul and Pitchford took over.
Spingarn used a full-court press and hot second-half shooting to come from behind and trounce Father Judge, 75-53, in a consolation game.
Spingarn scored only four field goals in the first quarter and fell behind, 13-8. Bob Convey scored eight of his 16 points in the second period to help the Crusaders hold a 28-26 advantage at halftime.
But the quicker Green Wave, sparked by Joe Brawner and Reggie Nance, took advantage of their quickness and raced past Father Judge, 21-9, in the third period. Nance, who finished with 20 points, scored seven points in the surge while Brawner and Diego McCoy added six each to help Spinarn (21-8) to a comfortable 47-37 lead after three quarters.
Spingarn continued the pressure until Father Judge (18-14) completely folded . An 8-2 scoring spurt midway in the final quarter boosted Spingarn's lead to 20 points.
Tolentine of New York rallied in the second half to dump Georgetown Prep, 58-49, in the other consolation game.
All-Met Dave Mulquin, whose 10 first-quarter points gave his team a 25-22 lead at the half, suffered an ankle early in the second quarter and did not return.
With the 6-foot-7 Mulquin on the bench. Tolentine's John Goode worwed his way inside for six quick points Kenny Davis added six more and the Wild Cats eased ahead, 40-37, after three quarters.
Tolentine sank eight of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to maintain its lead. Prep missed on its only two tries from the free-throw line in the second half.