Don Bosco survives St. Peter’s Prep, three-peats as NJ sectional champ by Greg Mattura of The Record
PISCATAWAY – Matt Herasme was at the foul line again, this time the senior had to make both free throws to win it, and he did just that.
Herasme made two foul shots with 0.6 seconds left in the second overtime to help Don Bosco three-peat as North Non-Public A boys’ basketball champion with a 60-59 victory over St. Peter’s on Thursday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
“When I got fouled, I had a little bit of déjà vu,” said Herasme, who was fouled on a drive.
Last year, Herasme had made the second of two free throws at the RAC to lift the Ironmen over Bergen Catholic by the same score, 60-59, en route to the state title and trip to the Tournament of Champions final.
Don Bosco (27-2) can repeat as NJSIAA Non-Public A champion when it faces Camden Catholic (23-6) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Toms River North.
Herasme had an outstanding all-around game. The St. Peter’s commit logged all 40 minutes and played stellar defense while producing 15 points and team highs of seven rebounds and four steals.
Herasme forced the first overtime by hitting a three-pointer from the left wing with 3.7 seconds left in the fourth to tie it at 48.
Senior Ronald Harper Jr. led the way offensively for Don Bosco with 25 points. His three-pointer from the left wing in the second OT gave Don Bosco a 57-55 lead. However, with the Ironmen leading 58-57, the Rutgers signee missed two free throws with 43 seconds left, making Herasme’s two free throws that much more significant.
Don Bosco had a shot to win it at the end of the first OT, but Harper missed a contested NBA-length trey from the left wing to head to another four-minute session with the score tied at 54. Harper shot 8-for-14 from the field and 6-for-12 from the foul line.
Don Bosco had to survive the final 10 minutes, 50 seconds without senior forward Marcellus Earlington. The St. John’s commit fouled out with 2:50 left in the fourth and the Ironmen tied at 40. Earlington had 12 points and six rebounds.
“If only you knew what was going through my head,” Earlington said. [But] I believed in my teammates. I got fouled out a couple of times last year, too, and they bailed me out.”
Don Bosco began to tire late in the third quarter and that enabled St. Peter’s to erase a 22-16 halftime deficit and lead 48-45 heading into the final seconds of regulation. Harper and Herasme played all 40 minutes, and senior point guard Mike Concannon (five points, team-high five assists) only sat one minute due to a bloody nose.
“Even though you get tired, the first overtime you just [have to] keep pushing, because it’s a sectional title and it doesn’t get any better than this,” Harper said. “You just don’t want it to end.”
“It’s too late for fatigue at this point,” Don Bosco coach Kevin Diverio said. “Matt actually said, ‘Coach is killing me,’ and I told him to expect to play 32 minutes on Saturday as well.”