Don Bosco wins the 2024 NJSIAA Non-Public Group A Boys Basketball State Championship
Don Bosco celebrates winning the 2024 NJSIAA Non-Public Group A Boys Basketball State Championship. (Photo by Sarah Middlesteadt - JSN)

Don Bosco clinches State Title against Paul VI

The Don Bosco Ironmen won the NJSIAA Non-Public A boys' state basketball title Friday evening against the Paul VI Eagles by a final score of 56-29.

The game opened with the Eagles running a fast-break-style offense led by Isaiah Thomas. Don Bosco took the opposite route, focusing on defense. After a three-minute rally, Don Bosco had Isaiah Brown on the right, Dylan Harper on the left, and Brady Loughlin on the center. The formation got them ahead with shots from Harper, Brown, and Jordan Ghee. Now that PVI looked more towards the left of the court, the Ironmen's formation shifted clockwise 90 degrees and was able to fend off further Eagle incursions. They stayed this way for the rest of the half. A dunk by Harper a minute to go brought the final score of the quarter to 13-6 for the Ironmen.

Don Bosco added Ghee to the sides for reassurance heading into the second quarter. By now, they had a solid, active defense that could pull apart PVI's basic layups. Early in the quarter, Brown was slammed head-first into the base of the hoop he was going for through a mid-air collision with Thomas.

Paul VI's Torren Greene had been assigned to cross the ball from right to left heading towards the hoop, which proved challenging to execute now that Don Bosco had at least two different players to counter on the spot. In theory, the Eagles had to resort to threes, yet aside from Judah Hidalgo, none tried during the remainder of the quarter. With Greene, despite making a buzzer-beater, stuck on the left and easily countered by Brown, Harper, and Ghee, the quarter ended 28-14 in favor of the Ironmen.

PVI returned from halftime even more dazed, having their long shots frequently caught by the Ironmen's defense.

Regarding strategy, the side had lost all semblance of cohesion when advancing into the paint and towards the hoop. The score gap was getting too wide for remedy as Don Bosco's long-distance shooting went down in bunches for the Ironmen. The lead was 43-18 as Don Bosco started to feel the game was in their grasp.

The fourth quarter grounded any Paul VI attempt at a comeback, as all on the court resorted to mad dashes toward the hoop in the early minutes. The original Don Bosco trident returned to stabilize the situation and placed Dylan Harper as a guarantor for any action from the right.

The game's last minutes were dominated by a dunk by Thomas in PVI's final attempts, several attempts on both sides, and the incessant cheering and noise by Don Bosco's students, who compelled the team to rush towards them at the final buzzer.