As D’Andre Vilmar stepped to the foul line, the Roman Catholic students broke out in a chant, still in awe of a put-back dunk by another Cahillite.
“La-mar Stevens,” they chanted in unison.
Fourteen seconds earlier, Stevens had taken off, flying over Allderdice guard Ramon Creighton for a right-handed slam off teammate Tony Carr’s missed jumper. The video board showed a replay of the dunk as the game continued, with the clock ticking toward the two-minute mark of the third quarter.
It was one of three dunks by Stevens in the third quarter as Roman Catholic started to pull away from Allderdice en route to a 73-62 win in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game Saturday night at the Giant Center.
“I told him that dunk might be better than all my dunks all this season,” said teammate and fellow Penn State signee Nazeer Bostick.
“Naz has some real special dunks,” Stevens said. “I don’t know if that’s true. I’m honored, for him to say that, it’s a big compliment because Naz can really jump.”
Stevens finished with a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds, while Bostick had 15 points and five rebounds and Carr added 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Stevens, Carr and Bostick all signed with Penn State in November as part of the program’s best recruiting class in program history. The class is currently ranked 22nd in the nation by ESPN.
I knew once we got going again in those games where their back’s against the wall, I’d put them up against anybody to compete. It’s like going into a backyard fight, I mean those guys they battle. Roman Catholic coach
Chris McNesby on Penn State signees Lamar Stevens, Tony Carr and Nazeer Bostick
They finished their high school careers by leading Roman Catholic to its second-straight state title.
As they posed for photos after the game, the players and coaches held up two fingers to signify the repeat.
But Stevens wasn’t part of the Cahillites’ title last season.
He watched all the state championship games on television from home. The 6-foot-7 forward then transferred from the Haverford School to Roman Catholic, joining Carr and Bostick.
“Tony’s been my best friend since I was younger,” Stevens said. “And we’ve always won together every time we got together so just being able to get another championship with him and finish my high school career with him has been special.”
Stevens helped Roman Catholic stay in the game despite a slow start. Allderdice raced out to a 10-0 lead before Stevens knocked down a free throw with 2:36 left in the quarter. He scored seven of the team’s 10 points in the first eight minutes.
Roman Catholic took its first lead, 26-24, on a layup by Stevens with 2:49 left in the second quarter. The Cahillites took a 33-30 lead into halftime and broke the game open in third quarter.
Carr drilled an uncontested 3-pointer to push his team ahead by four. Bostick pulled down an offensive rebound and completed a three-point play to add to the lead, and Stevens followed with consecutive dunks to fuel a 12-2 run.
“I feel like he’s just a man amongst boys,” Carr said of Stevens. “So we just tried to get it to him as much as possible.”
Stevens punctuated both dunks with a look into the camera to the left of the basket while Penn State coach Patrick Chambers and assistants Keith Urgo and Ross Condon looked on from their seats to the right.
Stevens then hammered home a thunderous right-handed jam.
Allderdice’s Dajuan Dugger stepped back as Stevens took flight, deciding to stay out of the way rather than contesting the dunk with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. A layup by Bostick sent Roman Catholic into the fourth with a 55-44 lead, and Allderdice never threatened in the final eight minutes.
It capped a memorable season for the Cahillites.
Roman Catholic coach Chris McNesby said his team took every opponent’s best shot this season as the defending state champions led by three Penn State commits. The Cahillites overcame a stretch of three losses in five games to get back on track in the playoffs.
McNesby called the trio of Penn State signees winners.
“I knew once we got going again in those games where their back’s against the wall, I’d put them up against anybody to compete,” McNesby said. “It’s like going into a backyard fight, I mean those guys they battle.”
Stevens said he became even closer with Carr and Bostick this season after all the hours spent together in school and at practices and games every day.
Carr said they became brothers off the court.
And on the court, they captured a state title.
“We were just a band of brothers,” Carr said. “And that was what led us to the championship.”