GL Feels the Byrne as Rams Get Their Revenge (Highlights Included!)


Steven Fudenna, Staff Writer

On a wispy, bitter Tuesday night, heaps of fans decked out in Hawaiian shirts, bathing suits, flip-flops, and beach gear flocked to Farrell Gym, anticipating a ferocious rematch between OP and our long-time rivals, the Governor Livingston Highlanders. In their last duel, the Rams suffered a heart-crushing defeat after Sean McCulloch of Governor Livingston hoisted up a 25-foot prayer that connected, tying the game at the end of regulation. Oratory, unfortunately, took the losing end of that round in double overtime, but this fueled the fire leading into Tuesday night’s game. Seeking their second consecutive conference win and determined to make up for the missed opportunities last round, the boys hit the hardwood with only the goal of victory ingrained in their minds.


With a rowdy crowd behind the bench, OP got off to a sizzling start despite the Highlanders’ attempts to apply pressure early on. For the first bucket of the game, Declan McKee slithered through a trap before setting up Peter Byrne for a 3, giving OP the first points of the game, a lead that they would not lose the entire game. This was the first of many productive connections between senior captains McKee and Byrne. After a scrappy steal on the subsequent possession by Junior James Boylan, Junior Lucas Pavlounis was able to get his first layup of the game, and a second one shortly after, giving OP a 7-0 lead and momentum early. Following a couple of scores by GL, Boylan found Byrne for another open look from beyond the arc in the corner, which Byrne drilled, giving OP a 10-4 lead. However, some early foul trouble and pressure from GL resulted in a 10-8 OP lead at the end of the first quarter.


Picking up where he left off in the 1st quarter, Boylan’s quick hands snatched him another steal early in the second. This lead to a fastbreak where McKee found Byrne who converted his 3rd 3-point field goal of the game, extending the Rams’ lead to 5. Later in the second, McKee found Sophomore Tommy Conniff cutting to the rim on an inbound pass, setting Conniff up for his first points of the game, and McKee’s 3rd assist. After some questionable calls and several free throws, Governor Livingston cut the game to 15-14. With the momentum beginning to shift, Senior Captain Tyler Maloney slipped a precise backdoor pass to a cutting Peter Byrne for a layup, bringing Byrne up to 11 points midway through the 2nd. At this point in the game, tensions culminated into a battle of the hecklers between the Rowdies and some Governor Livingston fans. The Highlander fans attempted to defend their losing team by bragging that they had football and girls, but if you’ve ever seen either of them, they’re not much to brag about. The Rams kept their strong play going in these pivotal moments, putting in extra effort on the defensive end. After Boylan deflected a pass leading to a steal by McKee, Tyler Maloney was able to connect from beyond the arc for his first 3 points in the game, boosting the Ram’s energy, and extending their lead to 20-14. Following another strong defensive possession, Boylan corralled a rebound and pushed the break, hitting McKee on the wing who found Byrne in the corner for yet another 3 pointer. Throughout the second half, the Rams showed their determination for a win, converting on hustle plays, as Maloney drew a charge, Boylan scavenged an offensive rebound for a putback, and Byrne picked up a steal leading to free throws. After some more free throws from Conniff and Pavlounis, OP lead 30-18 going into halftime.

The Rams came out in the second half with even more energy, as Byrne fed an instinctual jumping tap pass to Pavlounis down low for the first bucket of the 3rd quarter. Pavlounis involved himself on the opposing drive, swatting away his 2nd shot of the game. The following defensive possession, GL tried to attack the other big man down low, Conniff, who effectively rejected the attack for his first block of the game. Boylan led the ensuing fastbreak and found McKee for 3 in the corner for his first points of the game. For the 3rd straight possession, the Rams forced a turnover as Boylan was able to poke away another steal to McKee who assisted Byrne yet again for an otherworldly acrobatic layup through contact, displaying his exquisite ability to finish inside, similar to that of the great Myles Powell. Boylan intercepted another pass on the following drive for his second steal of the half, putting the ball in the hands of Peter Byrne once again, who sunk his 5th 3-pointer of the game, putting OP up by 22 early in the second half. Conniff picked up his second block of the half, followed by his first layup on the subsequent drive. Hard-nosed play from the big men down low was critical during the game and gave the Rams a sizeable advantage. Although some late 3rd quarter trapping from GL caused the Rams some troubles, they regained their composure and finished the quarter leading 43-29.


To start the final quarter of play, Boylan tallied his 3rd assist on a feed to Pavlounis who finished a layup for his 4th field goal of the game. The Rams stepped on the gas early in the 4th and never let up, converting points on several consecutive drives, and playing stifling defense on the other end. A tremor shook through DeGaeta after Conniff chased down a Highlander guard and pinned his layup against the glass, sending the Rowdies into pandemonium. The Rams continued to roll, as Boylan dished another assist to Byrne who knocked down a 6th 3-pointer. Byrne further showed off his incredible scoring ability on the next drive, taking it coast-to-coast and converting a difficult and-one layup, putting Oratory up by 22 once again. This lead increased to 24 after Byrne found McKee on a fast break for a delicately finessed layup around GL’s defender who was left speechless on the floor after his fruitless attempt to draw a charge. To add even more fuel to the fire, Freshman Mike Pirone intercepted a pass and took it all the way himself for a layup and a foul. He beat several defenders off the dribble and slid a precise assist to Conniff on the following drive.


At this point, Coach Daugherty gave the Rowdies a show, subbing in the Bench Mob, comprised of Juniors J.J. Gillette, Nick Yanuzzi, and Jeremy Smith, as well as Freshman Matt Gagliardo. These boys went to work immediately, as Jeremy Smith employed his great agility and elusiveness to scamper through a trap and feed Yanuzzi, who found Gillette wide open for three in the corner but unfortunately airballed. However, the following possession, Pirone fizzed a pass to Gillette in the opposite corner and this time, J.J. connected. The Rowdies erupted as Gillete celebrated on his jog back on defense, taunting with a “3-to-the-dome”. Yanuzzi put up some good jumpers but couldn’t get any to fall, yet this didn’t hinder his incessant hounding on defense, pouncing for loose balls. 


The Rams got their revenge against the Highlanders, winning 66-42, a 24-point victory in tribute to the late and great Kobe Bryant. May he rest in peace. Byrne channeled his inner Mamba, scoring 26 pts on 50% efficiency, including 6 three-pointers. He also tallied 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals to accompany his scoring. Pavlounis was the second highest scorer with 12 points to go with 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks. James Boylan had an overall impressive game, with Oratory outscoring GL by 31 while Boylan was on the floor. Despite scoring just 2 points, he was an integral part of both the offense and defense, recording 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 6 deflections. McKee also had an incredibly effective game, recording 7 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. This win puts Oratory at 9-4 on the season and 5-3 in conference matchups. Governor Livingston now falls to 4-9 and 3-5 in conference play. The Rams are looking to extend their win streak to 3 and reach double-digit victories on Thursday vs. Pingry.