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St. John’s Prep overcomes late slide, advances in ‘A’ playoffs

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Jimmy Gatto is unsure of what kind of play he's going to get most days. His St. John's Prep boys' basketball team has been painfully inconsistent this season.

"I don't know what team is going to show up," the coach said. "It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

Gatto got the good personality for most of Wednesday night's CHSAA Class A intersectional second-round playoff game with St. Edmund's Prep. Luckily, the lead was large enough when Mr. Hyde showed up.

St. John's Prep saw a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead evaporate and missed 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute of the game, but held on for a 48-45 win at Holy Cross. The Red Storm, the No. 4 seed from the South Division, will play the North's top seed, Iona Prep, Saturday afternoon in the intersectional quarterfinals at Mount St. Michael HS in the Bronx. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.

It did get a little nerve-wracking for Gatto in the closing minutes. St. John's Prep went up, 44-34, on a James Reel free throw with 1:37 left, but St. Edmund's, which hit three three-pointers in the final quarter, never went away. The Eagles got within 48-45 with 24 seconds left, then Red Storm junior Jon Rogowksi missed a pair of free throws.

St. Edmund's (2-21) got the ball back and John Romeo missed a three-pointer from the corner that would have tied the game with 2.6 seconds left. Rashad Smith missed two free throws on the other end, but a desperation heave by St. Edmund's sophomore Vinny Marchiano fell well short of the goal.

St. John's Prep escaped with the victory.

"You gotta make your foul shots," said Gatto, who is in his 38th year coaching St. John's Prep. "We got careless. We didn't put our hands up on threes."

Smith led the Red Storm with 14 points and Rogowski finished with 13 - 12 of which came in the first half. St. John's Prep took a 27-17 lead into halftime. For St. Edmund's, Cody Gauvard had 13 points, Romeo had 12 and Marchiano added nine.

St. John's Prep (12-13) has the unenviable task of matching up in the quarters with Iona Prep (20-4), which has gotten a bye up until this point. The good news for the Red Storm is that the Gaels have two of their four losses in the last three games. The bad news is when the two teams played on Jan. 31, St. John's Prep fell, 68-46.

Said Gatto: "We'll see what happens."

Mount St. Michael 73, Monsignor McClancy 55. Senior point guard James Lehane had 17 points in what would turn out to be his final high-school game, as the Crusaders fell to the Mountainers in the CHSAA Class A intersectional second round Wednesday afternoon at Holy Cross.

Mount (14-10), which will play Xavier (11-13) in the quarterfinals Saturday at its home gym, was led by sophomore forward Gary Acquah's 31 points. Nigel Mitchell added 17 points for the Mountaineers, who were seeded No. 3 out of the North Division. McClancy (9-12), the South's No. 6 seed, also got seven points from Keith Brooks.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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