Nazeer Bostick (above) had a double-double in the Catholic League championship for the second straight year. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Aron Minkoff (@AronMinkoff)
Most teams ride school busses to get to and from basketball games in Philadelphia.
Not Roman Catholic--the Cahillites have a first-class ride, via horseback.
That is, senior wing Nazeer Bostick, who earned the nickname “Horse.”
For the second consecutive year, the Roman Catholic Cahillites rode the Horse to emerge as victors in the Philadelphia Catholic League boys' basketball championship.
It was not always pretty but in Roman’s 72-65 victory over Neumann-Goretti, it was the glue guy, Bostick, who got it done.
In front of his future college coach, Penn State’s Pat Chambers, no less.
“He is the Horse,” senior guard Tony Carr said of his teammate, close friend and future college classmate. “When we play against those guys from Neumann he just ups his game to a different notch. He gets every offensive rebound, he is ferociously attacking the glass and it just helps us a lot.”
The 6-foot-4 Bostick finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, nine of those points coming in the fourth quarter to help his team put away Neumann-Goretti.
In last year’s PCL championship win, Bostick finished with an even more gaudy stat line, 23 points and 12 rebounds.
There is just something about playing under the bright lights of the Palestra that gets Bostick’s motor going.
“He has a big heart, and you don’t coach any of that,” Roman coach Chris McNesby said. “That is just heart, that is just someone that loves to play the game basketball.”
Bostick’s true value proved to be his tenacious attacking of the glass. It wasn’t just that he pulled in 10 rebounds as Roman out-rebounded Neumann 38-29 (excluding team rebounds), it was how he did it.
Every loose ball that caromed off the Palestra’s rims was at least played on by the leaping Bostick, who seemed like he was propelling himself off of a trampoline toward the glass.
Despite the presence of 6-8 Neumann junior Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, 6-7 Roman senior Paul Newman and 6-6 Roman senior Lamar Stevens, it was Bostick who seemed to grab the most contested boards.
“I just crashed the boards and got inside,” Bostick added. “It feels excellent because that is how I wanted to go out, back-to-back Catholic League Champions. That is what I told everybody and we did it.”
From here, Bostick, joined by teammates Carr and Stevens, will head to Penn State.
The trio will do so as Catholic League champions with a chance to win the state championship as well.
Other than Bostick’s huge night, Carr chimed in 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Stevens added 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Penn State-bound trio combined for 56 points and 28 rebounds, which has to be exciting news for Nittany Lions fans.
“All we are going to do is get bigger and better,” Bostick said. “We changed the culture at Roman Catholic, and that is what we are going to do Penn State.”
Penn State basketball has played second fiddle to the school’s football program for much of its existence. But with the football team not doing so hot as of late, there is a window for the basketball program to gain some steam.
That is just what has happened under the fifth-year head coach Chambers. A Radnor native, Chambers has improved Penn State fairly consistently in each season since taking charge of the program in 2011. Recently, the Nittany Lions knocked off No. 4 Iowa.
Nonetheless, Bostick, Carr and Stevens alike have left their legacy at Roman Catholic, perhaps helping start a streak of their own at Roman. Prior to winning the PCL crown last season, Neumann had won six consecutive titles. Now, Roman is streaking at the expense of the former kings.
“They are one of the best programs around in the city,” McNesby said. “You’ve got to beat a champion to become champion, which is an amazing thing. A lot of people picked them to win, and I get all that. They deserve every bit of that. So for us to beat them twice, just says a lot about our guys and their character.”
Before Bostick and co. can move onto Happy Valley, they first will have a test on Friday at Saint Joseph’s when they take on Martin Luther King from the Public League for the District 12 title, also known as the “city championship.”
The winner of that game will be District 12’s top seed in the PIAA AAAA tournament, another title that Roman Catholic will attempt to defend.
Time to let the horse run wild.
“I just like playing in front of a big crowd,” Bostick said. “It brings out the best in my play.”