OP Hoops Update: Conniff, Bradley Lift Rams Over Rival Delbarton.

Gabriel Costa and Thomas Hunt

After an unspeakable loss to the school across town, OP Hoops was back at home for a game against the Delbarton Green Wave. Delbarton entered the game with a more than respectable record of 10-2. However, as we all know, Degaeta Hall is one of the hardest places in the state for opposing teams to play in. This is especially true in rivalry games, like that of the 23 point routing of Summit High school in December. Saturday’s game was an extreme example of this considering that both Oratory and Delbarton had numerous students in attendance. As it has been for a majority of the season, the Rams starting lineup was made up of Sophomores Asher Bradley and Max Cook, Senior Greg Jones, and Juniors Patrick Conniff and John Pirone.

Starting Lineup (Image via OP Hoops)

After tip-off, Delbarton started the game up 7-3, before a plethora of Oratory stops and buckets on the other end sponsored a 17-4 run. This run was led by the Junior front-court, with Patrick Conniff scoring 8 (composed of 2 three’s and a tough finish at the rim), while John Pirone hit each of his first 3 shot attempts to give him 9. The first quarter ended 20-11, and the Rowdies were buzzing. 

The first points of the 2nd quarter came off of a Lincoln Zimmerman 3-pointer which shrunk Oratory’s lead down to six. This was before a Nick Servitto steal that led to transition corner three which the Junior converted on off of a Greg Jones assist. Later steals from Max Cook and Asher Bradley would exemplify the stellar defensive play that put the Rams up 29-22 at halftime. Out of the break, Conniff would pick off right where he left off by scoring the Rams first points of the half. An acrobatic finish at the rim by Sophomore Max Cook and a Patrick Conniff block would place the Rams up by 7 with 5:03 left in the 3rd quarter. Down 33-26, the preseason 17th ranked team in state would not go away as back to back steals led to a Green Wave layup and a Julian Radossich dunk that forced Coach Daugherty to call an astute time-out with 4:20 to go in the quarter. Out of the time-out, a swift Greg Jones up and under between two defenders and a 20 foot jumper put Oratory up 38-32. After Captain Greg Jones’ three pointer put the Rams up by 6, fellow Captain Mike Pirone would nail a corner 3 that put the Rams up 41-32, OP’s largest lead of the game up to that point. Now with 1:05 left in the third, the momentum had been completely shifted back in favor of OP as Delbarton called a time-out down 9. Delbarton would score with little time remaining in the quarter to leave the Rams up 41-34 heading into the 4th. Up by 7 to start the 4th, Sophomore Asher Bradley would stick a 3 point jumper to put the Rams up by 10. Bradley’s scoring would continue after a quick first step allowed him to penetrate from the wing and convert for 2 more. As the clock struck under 4 minutes to play, the Rams would display a masterclass in possession – ticking numerous seconds of the clock. Eventually, Asher Bradley would skip through the lane once again – this time finding Patrick Conniff who would score his 14th points of the night and give the Rams a 48-36 lead. Delbarton would show some fight, but a Greg Jones corner three with 3 minutes to go would prove to be the dagger, as Oratory’s 51-38 lead would never be relinquished. Free throws were eloquently stroked by Mike Pirone and Asher Bradley in the closing stages of the game and the Rams successfully defeated rival Delbarton by a score of 58-47. 

Patrick Conniff blocks Providence Recruit Myles Blackley (Image via Jake Weinberg )

When looking into the box score, it is clear that one of the keys to the Rams offense was the 60% shooting percentage from behind the arc. John Pirone’s 4 threes on 57% shooting played a large role in making up this percentage. His class-mate Patrick Conniff also went 2 for 2 from behind the arc, while showing his depth as an all-around, fundamentally sound player. He did this by being the Rams leading scorer on 57% from the field, while also tallying 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. Asher Bradley’s 4th quarter explosion left him with 14 points on 50% from the field, to go along with 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Bradley, Pirone and Jones all had 2 steals while Conniff led the team in blocks. 

Near-equally impressive to the performance on the court was the performance in the stands as the Ram Rowdies completely out-classed the Delbarton student section. The same intensity is expected on January 28th at Oratory’s next home game against New Providence.