Patterson Mill (Md.) head coach Jared Clark was raised in Williamsport and graduated from Williamsport High School in 1998. He is also the son of St. John Neumann assistant coach Joe Clark.
Jared Clark now coaches at Patterson Mill which is just south of Bel-Air, Md., and has about 1,000 students. He was also excited to return to his hometown to see old friends and visit his old stomping grounds. But as soon as the ball was tipped into the air Saturday afternoon, some of that excitement went away.
Patterson Mill trailed 11-0 six minutes into the game and never recovered as St. John Neumann remained undefeated with a 52-46 win Saturday afternoon in front of a raucous crowd at the Catholic Community Center.
Neumann (15-0) came out from the beginning with constant ball pressure on defense and a concerted effort to pound the ball inside to Neumann's bigs, who stand at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8. Alize Johnson is the 6-foot-6 big, but he can shoot like a shooting guard and pass like a point guard. It only took four seconds into the game for Johnson to assert his dominance as Ryan Reid found a streaking Johnson as he finished with a defender draped all over him and he completed the three-point play to put Neumann up 3-0.
The all-state center was dominant again for the Knights as he finished with 15 points, 23 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
"Amanze (Njoku-Ibe) had a lot of fouls so I was just trying to crash the boards so we could get more possessions," said Johnson. "I knew it was going to be rough for me offensively so I just had to find another way to just help the team out."
Njoku-ibe is a foreign exchange student and is the other big that stands at 6-foot-8. Njoku-Ibe has just played three games of organized basketball but is making strides and looks to make a big impact as Neumann looks to make a trip to its third straight district title game.
"Well his (Njoku-Ibe) size is one thing obviously because then people can't pay as much of attention to Alize, because they also have to pay attention to him," said Neumann coach Paul Petcavage. "But as he develops in his skill level, which he still needs some work, he's just gonna open up possibilities for us offensively and defensively."
Njoku-Ibe played most of the first three quarters until he got into foul trouble but he finished with nine points, five rebounds and two blocks.
At the start of the second quarter, Njoku-Ibe just had a huge block and the Knights were out and running and Johnson found him cutting for a thunderous slam that brought Neumann fans to their feet. It was a short 30-second sequence that showed Njoku-Ibe's potential.
Freshman guard Kevin Anderson also had a big game for the Knights, as he scored a game-high 17 points, including eight in the fourth to stave off Patterson Mill. The young guard was a calming presence for the Knights and is a key reason why the Knights are still undefeated.
Jared Clark wanted to come back to his hometown and "stick it" to his father with a win, but as it usually seems to happen, dad still had the upper hand.
"He has bragging rights now, so that's a little annoying," Jared Clark said. "But overall, I love my dad and to be honest they do a great job with this program. They brought it from the ashes literally, you know to bring them back to where they are now, I have nothing but respect for coach Petcavage and obviously, I love my dad and he works extremely hard with these guys so kudos for them."
Patterson Mill, MD (46)
CJ Keyser 4 0-0 8, Malik Bonds 3 0-3 6, Dujuan Madden 3 7-8 15, Tyler Jakulbowski 1 0-0 2, Ramone Felder 3 9-12 15, Chris Lorenzo 0 0-0 0, Jake Ross 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 16-23 46.
Alize Johnson 7 1-1 15, Richard Allen 1 1-4 3, Noah Beiter 0 0-0 0, Ryan Reid 0 0-0 0, Kevin Anderson 3 11-13 17, Cody Forsburg 1 0-0 2, Amanze Njoku-ibe 4 1-2 9, Luke Iarkowski 0 0-0 0, Kamall Burkholder 0 2-4 2, Nasza Short 1 2-5 4, Isacc Beiter 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 16-29 52.
Patterson Mill 3 10 13 20- 46
Neumann 14 9 13 16- 52
3-point goals: Patterson Mill 2 (Madden 2)
JV score: Neumann won
Records: Neumann (15-0); Patterson Mill (8-5)
Next game: Neumann at Benton (Tue.)