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Fleming, Judge dominate from perimeter in win over West Catholic

01/23/2015, 11:30pm EST
By Tom Reifsnyder
Justin Fleming

Justin Fleming scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the second half to lead Father Judge past West Catholic on Friday night. (Photo: Tug Haines)

Tom Reifsnyder (@tom_reifsnyder)

When you see an entire team cheering on one of its players as he’s being interviewed after a game, you know they’ve got something special.

Collaborative shouts of “Yeah, Justin!” echoed throughout the dimly lit hallway as Justin Fleming gleamed with joy over his teammates’ support.

Father Judge knocked down 12 three-pointers, including four from Fleming, who scored a game-high 20 points in a 70-54 Catholic League victory over West Catholic on Friday night.

“I was just trying to do my best,” Fleming said humbly. “In the McDevitt game I didn’t really shoot the ball that well but whenever I’m not making my shots I do whatever I can to have a good game.

“In the newspaper and online they really only show points but I’m trying to be chippy, take charges, get offensive rebounds, get defensive rebounds, try to get some steals…I just do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

Fleming and Judge would ultimately emerge victorious, but early on, West Catholic was giving them all they could handle.

After jumping out to an 18-11 lead by the end of the first quarter, Judge started to crack under West Catholic’s full-court pressure as the Burrs went on a 12-3 run to take a 23-21 lead with three minutes to go until halftime.

But Judge would battle back, knocking down a trio of three-pointers during a 14-5 run that would give the Crusaders a 35-28 advantage heading into the second half. Sophomore guard Marc Rodriguez led all scorers at the half with 12 points; he would finish with 15.

Rodriguez played flawlessly on the offensive end, but had a few lapses on defense that cost his team in the first half.

“I still have to remind myself that he’s only a sophomore,” Judge head coach Sean Tait said. “So I mean at times he does make some mistakes that I try to keep my composure with but I have to remind myself being a sophomore, man, he’s got a lot of basketball and growth ahead.”

For the Burrs, senior forwards Jahmil Harris and Brandon Cole led the charge for head coach Jazz Williams in the first half, scoring eight and 10 respectively; Harris would finish with 14 as Cole dropped in a team-high 18 by game’s end.

West Catholic’s pressure defense worked for a hot minute, but was soon deflated by the efficient ball handling and composure of Father Judge’s Will Brazukas.

Brazukas played a stellar game at the lead guard position, weaving through traffic and dishing to open shooters all night long.

“It’s very relaxing to know that he has the ball in his hands during the course of the game and at the end of the game,” Tait said.

In the third quarter, Brazukas made a point of looking for Fleming, who had only scored three points up to that point.

Fleming burst out for seven points in the third, helping Judge maintain its seven-point lead heading into the final quarter as the Crusaders withstood a mini three-point barrage from sophomore sharpshooter Jeohnni Moore; Moore knocked down four triples and a layup for his 14 points.

After two West Catholic free throws cut the Judge lead to 52-47 less than a minute into the fourth, the Crusaders would respond with a 17-6 run highlighted by 10 points from Fleming, who ultimately stole the show as his team coasted past the young Burrs (5-12, 1-7).

“Justin is a flat-out shooter, catch-and-shoot; he does that extremely well,” Tait said. “He’s gotten better at the rest of his game, still needs development, but Justin’s a guy when he gets it going, he gets it going.”

After watching Judge play, one thing is sure to become very clear: They don’t care who scores.

And thus far, it’s safe to say that mindset has been pretty successful for them in 2014-15.

“We’re a 3-point shooting team and we’ve made enough shots to be four-and-three now in a very good league,” Tait said. “So that’s us, man; we don’t have a post player, we’re not very big…we drive, kick and make threes.

“And if we can do that, we can play with the big boys.”

Judge (12-4, 4-3) can only hope its hot shooting continues as they get set to take on one of ‘the big boys’ in Catholic League giant Roman Catholic at the Community College of Philadelphia next Tuesday, Jan. 27.

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