BOYS' BASKETBALL: Nativity downs NDES for Class A title

Chuck Curley, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.
·2 min read

Mar. 14—POTTSVILLE — It took two minutes for Nativity and Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg to score a point in Saturday night's District 11 Class A boys' basketball championship game at Martz Hall.

The answer came from the 3-point arc.

The Hilltoppers drained nine treys, seven in the first half, and earned their second straight district championship with a 69-55 victory over NDES.

"It's a lot of hard work that goes into it," Nativity head coach Mike Walborn said. "We're having a heck of a lot of fun."

Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg was bidding for its first crown since 2019, when the Spartans (13-3) beat the Hilltoppers for the title, but Nativity avenged that loss last season for the crown and doubled up this time behind its twin towers.

Senior Kegan Hertz scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Hilltoppers, while fellow 6-foot-6 forward Marquis Ratcliff had 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Yet, while they combined for 21 first-half points, it was a pair of bombs from senior forward Jacob Hoffman that got the Hilltoppers started.

The teams played a frenetic first half, but both teams went scoreless over the first two minutes. Nativity broke up the drought with a bang as Hoffman scored two straight 3-pointers, which ignited a scoring spree.

For the first half, the teams combined for 71 shots, and Nativity made the most of its opportunities by burying seven 3-pointers. That overcame a stellar first half by the Spartans' Aaron Bailey, who had 14 points and six rebounds from his point guard position.

Yet Nativity displayed its strength on the boards as Hertz had nine rebounds and Ratcliff added six in the half. Ratcliff used the edge to score 12 points, but he also scored two treys in the half.

"We shot a lot of shots in practice," Walborn said. "We thought they were going to play a zone."

Those treys produced a 36-24 halftime lead and the Hilltoppers (21-4) were never seriously threatened after that. Nativity had a few nervous moments in the fourth period as NDES pulled within 10 points at 61-51 with 3:07 remaining, but the Hilltoppers answered with five straight points to essentially decide the outcome.

While Hertz and Ratcliff paced the Hilltoppers, Bailey finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and three steals for the Spartans. Chase Medina added eight points and 12 rebounds, but he fouled out with 2:39 remaining. Shawn Seay added 14 points and nine rebounds.

With the victory, Nativity will advance into the PIAA Tournament and will face District 4 champion St. John Neumann next Friday at a time and site to be announced.

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