Alassane Amadou (above) hit two key 3-pointers as McDevitt beat Roman 74-69 on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Alassane Amadou was open. Way too open, for a tie game in a packed house during a high-intensity game between Amadou’s Bishop McDevitt and “host” Roman Catholic, though the game was held at Cristo Rey rather than in Roman’s not-quite-regulation gym.
Regardless, the Catholic League regular-season finale felt like high stakes between McDevitt and Roman, even though the postseason implications weren’t quite that big. And Amadou was wide, wide open with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
So the Lancers’ 6-foot-9 sophomore reserve big man let it fly from the right wing. Right through the net.
“They didn’t know I could shoot,” he said. “It didn’t really take that long; the first time I saw I was open, I just shot it.
“I always could shoot, I just never had the confidence to shoot until I came (to McDevitt)...the ball felt good coming off my hands from outside.”
Roman didn’t learn its lesson, as Amadou knocked down another one a minute later. On the defensive end, he came up with another big energy boost, rejecting a jumper by Roman star Jalen Duren to help the Lancers stay in front.
Amadou’s six points and two blocks weren’t the largest statistical contribution to the Lancers’ tenth-straight win, a 74-69 triumph over the Cahillites, but there’s no denying the developing young forward found his confidence at the right time. It wasn’t the first time that Amadou had come off the bench and hit a few shots for the Lancers during their run, but there’s no doubt it was the biggest spot yet.
“He stepped up also in the Bonner game, also in the Ryan game, he’s been stepping up in spurts all year,” McDevitt coach Will Chavis said. “So he earned our trust, and I think he’s one of the most intriguing prospects in the area that nobody really knows about. I think his ceiling is super-high.”
Back in the fall, Amadou got a simple message from Chavis: stay patient, and the minutes will come. The 6-foot-9 big man didn’t have a choice but to listen, as he spent most of the first half of the season riding the varsity bench, watching as the Lancers lost an early-season Public League match-up against Archbishop Wood and took their lumps against a number of high-level out-of-state programs such as Gill St. Bernard (N.J.) and Our Savior Lutheran (N.Y.).
Amadou impressed in junior varsity action, biding his time, but then opportunities started to appear. He came off the bench for McDevitt to score a couple buckets per contest in most of McDevitt’s 10 consecutive wins, all of which came in league play, starting with a Jan. 13 game against West Catholic. That streak was enough to rally McDevitt from a 1-2 start to league play –– the two losses coming by a combined six points –– all the way up to the No. 2 spot in the league’s playoffs, closing the regular season at 16-6 overall (11-2 PCL).
Jamil Manigo (above) had 20 points and seven rebounds while going up against Roman star Jalen Duren. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
While Amadou’s been a key bench piece, it’s been a senior-led effort, as was the case on Sunday. Forward Jamil Manigo led the way for McDevitt with a 20-point, seven-rebound outing, getting his production from inside and out (three 3-pointers) –– even though at 6-4 he was matched up against the 6-10 Duren, one of the best interior defenders in the country and a surefire NBA prospect despite being a high school underclassman.
Duren got 16 points and 14 rebounds, but only grabbed one board on the offensive end.
“It’s really important because he gets the ball, he doesn’t even have to jump, to be honest, he can just dunk that right in,” Manigo said. “Since I’m smaller than him, making sure I get into his legs and push him out, making sure I keep him off the glass.”
Lynn Greer III led Roman with 29 points as only four Cahillites scored. Sophomore Justice Williams matched Duren with 16, and freshman Xzayvier Brown scored eight with four steals.
McDevitt had nine different scorers, with senior guards Robert Smith (15 points/4 rebounds) and Ahmir Harris (13 points/6 rebounds/4 assists) joining Manigo in double figures. Junior Quin Gilyard (3 points), senior Glenn Smith (4 points), freshman Terrell Pitts (7 points), senior Shamir Mosley (5 points) and senior Kevin Young all contributed on both ends.
The Lancers were 24-of-28 from the foul line, including 13-of-15 in the fourth quarter to help seal the win down the stretch.
Entering the afternoon, Roman (14-8, 10-4) was already locked into the No. 5 seed in the PCL playoffs, assured of visiting Bonner this Friday in the league quarterfinals; the Cahilites are also assured of a berth in the PIAA 6A state playoffs.
McDevitt was either going to be No. 2 with a win or at worst No. 3 with a loss, with a home game in the quarterfinals standing between the Lancers and a return trip to the Palestra either way. But Manigo said that the slight change in seeding was still important.
“It mattered because McDevitt’s not known for winning, and this is one of the best teams that McDevitt’s ever had,” he said. “Just getting 12 PCL wins…we accomplished a little bit, but we haven’t accomplished something (big) yet.”
The Lancers didn’t make it any further than the PCL semifinals last year, losing to La Salle in their first trip to the Palestra in 30 years. This year, they want to become the first McDevitt team to ever win a PCL title. It’s now only three wins away.
“I think they’re hungry, I think they’re a more focused team now, they understand what it feels like to go through adversity, they don’t take moments for granted,” Chavis said. “So that’s a really important thing that we try to preach for them, not only in basketball but in life in general. You can’t take moments for granted, opportunities for granted, you’ve got to try to make the best of every opportunity you have.
“I think they’re starting to understand that in the most humble way.”
McDevitt: 12 | 22 | 14 | 26 | 74
Roman: 8 | 21 | 19 | 21 | 69
McDevitt: 20-51 FG, 10-23 3PT, 24-28 FT
Roman: 27-55 FG, 1-12 3PT, 14-19 FT
McDevitt: Manigo 23, Smith 15, Harris 13, Amadou 6, Mosley 5, Pitts 4, G. Smith 4, Gilyard 3, Young 1
Roman: Greer 29, Duren 16, Williams 16, Brown 8