Chris Clover can hardly wait until Monday night. That’s when St. Joseph’s Prep will face Neumann-Goretti for the Catholic League basketball championship at the Palestra. The tipoff for this classic will be at 8:15 p.m.
Clover, Prep’s 6-foot-3 sophomore, remembers last year’s big time matchup between these two basketball powers for the league title. It was one of the most exciting championship games in years with Neumann-Goretti defeating St. Joseph’s Prep, 59-57, in overtime. Clover didn’t play a major role in that contest. However, he will be a key player in this year’s game.
“I’m very excited for my team,” said Clover, who scored seven points in St. Joseph’s Prep’s 57-50 semifinal victory over Roman Catholic. “This is my first year on varsity. This is going to be my first championship game. I played jayvee last year, but when we went to the championship they had bump me up for this game. I didn’t play at all. It was a great experience.”
It should be another great matchup. Neumann-Goretti is loaded with talent including 6-foot-3 shooting guard Ja’Quan Newton, 6-foot-5 forward John Davis and 5-foot-9 point guard Hanif Sutton. St. Joseph’s Prep has some great players, too. The Prep has two Division I players in 6-foot-5 guard Stephen Vasturia and 6-foot-4 guard Miles Overton. Vasturia will be playing his college basketball at Notre Dame. Overton is headed to Wake Forest. Clover is surrounded by some terrific players.
“I like playing with these guys,” Clover said. “They’re very talented. They get me some shots. I get them shots. We have good chemistry.”
William “Speedy” Morris, St. Joseph’s Prep head coach, feels Clover has a lot of potential. Morris has seen a lot of growth in his game from last year.
“Chris Clover is getting better and better all the time,” Morris said. “He’s only a sophomore. I think he’s a Division I prospect. He’s played with Miles and Steve and that’s helped him.”
Clover is a solid role player. He hits timely jumpshots, looks for the open man, rebounds and plays good defense. If he can do those things in the championship game, that could make the difference.
“I have to show up and play my game,” Clover said. “That’s what I have to do. If I can do that, we’ll be good.”
The scoring parade for St. Joseph’s Prep was led by Overton (17 points), Vasturia (16 points) and Kyle Thompson (14 points). Shep Garner chipped in with 15 points for Roman Catholic.
Neumann-Goretti spanked Archbishop Carroll, 57-34, in the other semifinal. Newton was the game-high scorer with 18 points. Davis and shooting guard Troy Harper had 11 apiece. Derrick Jones had 11 points for Carroll.