TAMPA, Fla. – From the very start of Friday night’s rivalry game, the visiting Jesuit Tigers (15-2) made it clear that slowing down Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox and Thomas Dziagwa was their biggest worry.
Despite Knox dropping a game-high 24 points, including 19 in the second half alone, the Tigers went on to upend the Crusaders 63-51.
Knox hit clutch baskets down the stretch as he finished 9-of-21 from the field, 2-of-5 from the free throw line, 1-of-5 from beyond the arc along with 18 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks. He fouled out with 2:23 left which left Tampa Catholic with little offensive identity outside of Dziagwa.
Knox, one of the top junior recruits in the nation did basically all he could for a Tampa Catholic team that simply got beat by a resilient Jesuit group. Knox has offers from Duke and North Carolina and every time he stepped to the free throw line, the Jesuit fans who made up a huge part of the sold out crowd, chanted “overrated.”
As for Dziagwa, the senior Oklahoma State commit. He had four fouls late in the third quarter which limited his minutes. He added 11 points on 4-of-13 from the field, 0-of-6 from 3-point land with five rebounds and three steals. The Tigers double-teamed Dziagwa often and it made things tough for him all night.
With four minutes left on a wild sequence underneath Tampa Catholic’s basket, the Crusaders hauled in some clutch rebounds and Dziagwa found Knox for a huge 3-pointer that trimmed the deficit to 52-51.
After taking a 13-9 in the first quarter, Jesuit outscored Tampa Catholic 25-8 as the Tigers headed into the break with a 34-21 lead.
It was 46-39 after three-quarters of play as Tampa Catholic came out determined in the second half, but again Jesuit beat the Crusaders on the scoreboard, 17-12 in the final quarter which included an 11-0 advantage following Knox’s big 3-pointer with four minutes left (video above).
Jesuit got all-around play from various players including junior Stephen Darst, who led his group with 16 points despite a noticeable leg injury.
Sophomore riser Thierry Moliere stepped up in the clutch burying shots late on the way to 13 points. He slammed home a dunk with under 40 seconds left that erupted the crowd. Tampa Prep senior and Connecticut commit Juwan Durham along with various members of the Jefferson basketball team were in the stands for this one and they went crazy for Moliere’s slam.
Moliere is one of the most athletic players on this intense Jesuit squad that got solid efforts from senior Guard DJ Snyder, 11 points and junior guard Tyson Dunn, 10 points. Senior big man Lee Green also had eight points which included a 3-pointer late.
It looked like a game that was getting out of hand for Tampa Catholic (16-2) at the half, but they hung tough and fought back. At one of the loudest high school basketball games I’ve ever been to, it turned out to be a great one. The tickets were sold out two hours before, people were scalping tickets and parking spots were let’s just say hard to come by.
Jesuit not only snapped Tampa Catholic’s 16-game winning streak, they made it clear they won’t be rolling over for any opponent this season. Both teams will be tough outs come playoff time.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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