By Rob Abruzzese
Holy Cross Coach Tom Marchesini knows his team is inexperienced. He also understands patience often pays off with that type of group, especially with star sophomore Jermaine Bishop.
Marchesini said he has had people tell him to sit Bishop as he goes through growing pains. The coach would rather the talented combo guard live and learn.
“He played the two last year on the freshman team so we’re asking him to do a lot and never once have I thought he’s been overwhelmed yet,” Marchesini said.
Bishop played like a veteran down the stretch of the Holy Cross boys’ basketball team’s 70-65 road victory of rival St. Francis Prep in the Battle of the Boulevard Friday night. His baseline layup put the Knights ahead for good at 41-39 and his three-pointers crushed the Terriers’ spirits late in the third quarter. He was poised and aggressive in a 27-point performance to help snap his team’s skid.
“It’s a big game, Battle of the Boulevard, rivalry, plus we’re coming off a two-game losing streak,” Bishop said. “This is a good win for us.”
St. Francis Prep (3-10) took a 37-32 lead into halftime, thanks to 17 first half points by junior Michael Fields. Marchesini countered by putting Joshua Wallace, whom he considers his best defensive player, on Fields. He quickly shut Fields down and the Knights (8-5) opened up the third quarter on a 14-2 run to go up 46-39.
“We had to win this game,” Cross guard Terrell Williams said. “We made plays down the stretch of the game and we made sure we were locked in on defense.”
Bishop took over after the break, going on a personal 7-0 run. His three-pointer from the left corner put the Knights up seven. Williams converted a clutch three-point play that started a 12-2 run to put Cross ahead 62-56 late.
The victory marked the first time Marchesini returned to St. Francis Prep since leaving five years ago following 20 years on the bench as a junior varsity coach. He said he got caught up in seeing old faces again that he nearly forgot what he was there for.
“I miss these guys,” Marchesini said. “All of the coaches, my old players, I must have met with 15-20 guys personally that I used to coach before the game. And I’m watching the JV game and I’m like, ‘Oh, my god, we’re playing in a couple of minutes.’”
Bishop did forget his reason for being on the court and made sure to deliver his coach and team a much-needed win.