Roselle Catholic Surge in 2nd Half to Comeback on Pope John XXIII in Tip-Off Hoop Group Showcase

WEST ORANGE, NJ – For all the excitement Pope John’s freshman sensation Bryce Aiken brought to the game, Roselle Catholic senior Tyler Roberson and his teammates sent a clear message to the super frosh, it’s not your time yet.
Roberson scored a team-high 22 points as Roselle (2-0) broke a close game open in the second half to cruise to a 71-58 victory in the third game of the Tip-Off Hoop Group Showcase at West Orange High School.
During the first half Aiken, who finished with a game-high 24 points, helped Pope John (1-1) take a 29-26 lead into the locker room. But after the break, it was all Roselle Catholic.
“In the first half we didn’t have any defensive intensity,” Roselle coach Dave Boff said. “We made some slight adjustments (at the half) and our senior leadership took over in the second (half).”
Most of that leadership came from Roberson. Stepping up his defensive presence in the paint he also started making shots in the second that quickly erased Pope John’s lead and put Roselle in control.
One of those shots came during a key exchange with just 5:45 remaining in the game.
Leading 54-46 Roselle’s Malachi Richardson stole the ball from Aiken and feed a pass to Roberson for a layup which made the score 56-46.
After four Pope John points cut the lead to 56-50 Roberson drove to the basket but at the last minute dished it off. Roselle moved the ball quickly around the perimeter and then freshman Asante Gist buried a 3-pointer to up the lead to 59-50.
“I wasn’t sure how close I was to the rim so I made the decision to dish it out,” Roberson said.
Although he failed to take that shot, a few minutes later Roberson effectively closed out the game with a thunderous one-handed dunk which brought the capacity crowd to its feet and gave Roselle a 65-56 lead.
In the end, although the moment belonged to Roberson and Roselle, it was clear that Aiken and Pope John made an impression that will make future opponents take notice.
“Considering this was the first major high school event he’s played in he did a heck of a job,” Pope John coach Jason Hasson said. “If he continues to get better it’s going to be a problem for a lot of people playing against us.” —@pfebbraro

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