No. 2 St. Thomas More tops Appo 48-40, earns school’s first Final Four

Photos special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

NEWARK — In the same position as a year ago, the St. Thomas More boys’ basketball team didn’t want to make the same mistakes.

Cheston Boyd watched his team let a double-digit lead slip away but knew this time the Ravens wouldn’t panic.

“That was us last year,” Boyd said. “I remember it vividly.”

A season after losing in the quarterfinals, St. Thomas More is now headed to the state tournament semifinals thanks to a 48-40 victory over Appoquinimink on Sunday afternoon. This is the first semifinal appearance for the small Magnolia private school.

The second-seeded Ravens will play 19th seed Caravel in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bob Carpenter Center.

St. Thomas More was knocked out of last year’s tournament by St. Georges when the Ravens gave up an 11-point second half lead. This time St. Thomas More led by 13 at halftime but watched the Jaguars battled back to go in front in the second half.

But led by some clutch free throw shooting and a 26-point performance by junior Greg Bloodsworth, the Ravens outscored Appoquinimink 15-9 in the fourth quarter.

“We have more motivation this year,” Bloodsworth said. “Last year we just wanted to get here. This year we want to finish it.”

“We had to stay calm and we couldn’t panic,” he added. “We panicked last year and that’s why St. Georges came back and beat us. That’s why we’re a different team this year.”

St. Thomas More took the lead for good when Bloodsworth hit a layup through traffic to break a 37-37 tie in the fourth quarter. A few possessions later, Alvin West forced a steal and quickly chucked the ball down the court to Corey Gordon for a fastbreak layup.

Bloodsworth and West then combined to hit five free throws in three possessions to seal it.

Bloodsworth finished 10-of-18 shooting from the floor.

“Greg is a baller man,”  Boyd said. “The kid doesn’t receive half the respect he deserves. When he’s feeling it we like to ride him. He played an amazing game.”

Bloodsworth did most of his damage knifing through the Jaguar defense to find open space in the middle of the lane. Boyd said that was the gameplan since Appoquinimink used its bigger guards to match up with St. Thomas More’s Eric Montanez and Gordon.

“I told him that midrange and that floater would be there,” Boyd said. “We were going to allow Greg to go to work. That was a matchup that we were going to win.”

Bloodsworth, who is 5-foot-8, said the Ravens weren’t intimidated by the Appoquinimink height advantage.

“They call me small so I run right past them,” Bloodsworth said. “We weren’t worried about the height. We’ve been playing against height all year long so I felt like we had a good chance to beat them.”

Montanez added a double-double for the Ravens with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

St. Thomas More was able to build its first half lead by holding Appoquinimink to a 4-of-26 shooting performance in the half.

The Ravens also were able to keep Seton Hall commit Myles Cale in check. Cale did lead the Jaguars with 14 points but St. Thomas More held him to 3-of-15 in field goal attempts.

For a program that only made the quarterfinals for the first time last year, this result is uncharted territory.

“It’s a great feeling man,” Boyd said. “I always tell my kids that nothing in life stands still. You’re either moving forward or moving backward. As a program, we always want to be moving forward. By setting the bar at the elite eight last year, we had no choice to get to the final four to ensure we’re moving forward.”

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