JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Joe Sandberg scored 10 of his 19 points during a fourth quarter surge as Bergen Catholic upended Paterson Catholic, 60-50 on Wednesday night at the North Jersey Parochial A final.
With the game knotted at 39 and 4:16 left, the Crusaders outscored the Cougars 13-2 over a three minute stretch to grab a 52-41 lead with just under a minute to play. Sandberg scored four points in the surge and junior swingman/small forward Danny Gentile was also instrumental in the run.
"As I've told everybody for two years, Joey is about as big a big game player as I've seen," said B.C. Head Coach Joe Dionisio. "Even though people were criticizing his game a little bit during the season, him stepping up is no surprise for us. He's a great competitor with a strong will to win."
Gentile also hit double figures for Bergen Catholic with 12 points (seven in the fourth quarter), while star junior small forward Sean Banks (right) chipped in 10 points.
Banks picked up his third foul with 3:26 to play in the third quarter and the Crusaders down 32-31. Paterson Catholic ended the quarter on a 5-0 spurt, capped by a Malcolm Clayton three pointer with 2:14 to play, to grab a 37-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
However, Paterson Catholic blew several golden opportunities to extend on its six point lead in the final two minutes of the third quarter, but the Cougars came up empty on their last four possessions of the quarter.
So when Gentile knocked down a three pointer eight seconds into the fourth quarter to pull the Crusaders to within three points, the tide began to turn in Bergen Catholic's favor.
Moments later, a three pointer by Banks tied the game at 39, and the Crusaders took the lead for good at 42-39 on a Gamal Patrick trey with 3:27 left. The latter three pointer by Patrick kicked off the 13-2 run that salted away the contest for B.C.
"When we were down six, we defended pretty well at that point, and once we got a couple of shots and took the lead, it looked like the momentum came in our favor," Dionisio said. "We felt a little looser and they might have gotten a little tight."
Bergen Catholic's focus was to collapse on 6-10 Cougar center Darryl Watkins any time he got the ball in the low post. Watkins, whose performances can vary greatly from game to game, was very aggressive on both ends of the court and finished with 14 points.
Sydir Mitchell was actually Paterson Catholic's leading scorer with 15 points, and Marquis Webb collected just seven points. Keeping Webb in check was another one of B.C.'s goals entering last night's game, and it passed that test with flying colors.
Bergen Catholic will next face South Jersey Parochial A champion St. Augustine H.S. on Saturday for the right to advance to the six team New Jersey Tournament of Champions bracket. That game will tip off at noon in Elizabeth, N.J. at the Dunn Center.