FORDHAM, N.Y. – Coming into Tuesday evening’s matchup, the Fordham Prep Rams were looking for another signature win to catapult them into the last month of the regular season on a good note. Coach Brian Downey’s squad had won their three previous games and had already taken down a state-ranked opponent in Iona Prep (No. 18 NYSSWA Class AA) on December 4 (67-66).
On Tuesday evening at Fordham Preparatory School, on the campus of Fordham University, in the Bronx, New York, the Rams (8-4) defeated another state-ranked team, the All Hallows Gaels (9-4/No. 7 NYSSWA Class A), 62-53. With the victory, the Rams won their fourth consecutive game and snapped the Gaels’ five-game winning streak.
Trailing 23-20 at halftime, the Rams’ starters (Matthew Filipowski, Kyle Filipowski, Mark Osime, Avni Mustafaj, and Alex Russo) poured in all 24 points to outscore the Gaels 24-9 in the third for a 44-32 lead. Kyle Filipowski netted seven points on two layups and a three-pointer during a 14-0 run from the middle of the second into the beginning of the third quarter to take a 24-23 edge after falling behind by 13. Osime, Mustafaj, and Matthew Filipowski scored as part of the spurt. During the run, the Rams held the Gaels to eight missed field goals and three turnovers in 11 possessions.
After the Gaels temporarily took the lead, Osime sparked a 13-0 run by converting back-to-back layups and hitting a floater for a 37-26 edge. Kyle Filipowski had a three-point play while Matthew Filipowski and Mustafaj made layups of their own to cap the spurt. During the run, the Rams forced the Gaels to miss nine consecutive field goals.
In the fourth quarter, the Rams went 9-of-11 at the free throw line to pull away for the victory. Mustafaj knocked down all four of his attempts from the charity stripe in the last 33.8 seconds.
The Rams’ starters combined to score 59 of their 62 points in the game.
Mustafaj led with 14 points on two mid-range jumpshots, a pair of layups, and was 6-of-6 from the foul line. The senior guard also grabbed two rebounds and dished out two assists. Kyle Filipowski scored 13 on four layups, a three-pointer from the right corner, and a pair of free throws. The sophomore forward hauled in 15 rebounds, handed out six assists, blocked three shots, and had two steals as well. Osime had 12 points on three layups, a floater, a long-range shot from the left wing, and a free throw to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Alex Russo and Matthew Filipowski each chipped in 10. Filipowski tied his brother with 15 rebounds of his own, blocked seven shots, and had an assist. Russo grabbed a pair of rebounds and handed out two assists.
Randy Fulton (3) rounded out the scoring for the Rams.
Nick Johnson netted 11 of the Gaels’ first 13 points of the fourth quarter in a late comeback attempt after losing a 13-point second quarter lead. Trailing 49-36 with 5:57 remaining in the game, the senior guard scored nine consecutive points to cut the deficit to 49-45 with 3:19 left on the clock. Johnson finished with 23 on four layups, a floater in the lane, a jumpshot from the top of the key, a three-pointer from the left corner, and went 8-of-10 at the free throw line.
Junior guard Chad Ewart knocked down four shots from beyond the arc in the second half en route to 16 points. Junior forward Devin Diaz scored 10 on two layups and a pair of long-range shots.
Mihkail Leston (4) rounded out the scoring for the Gaels. Overall, 10 players combined to score all 115 points in the game.
Fordham Prep will host fellow borough rival Cardinal Spellman Friday night at 7:30 PM. All Hallows will play Xavier Thursday night on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Game set to tip off at 7:00 PM.