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Battle's emergence in win against Washington Township helps Gloucester Catholic spoil former coach's homecoming

Gloucester Catholic's Trey Battle scored a game-high 19 points in a 53-49 victory over Washington Township in the basketball game played at Gloucester Catholic High School in Gloucester City, New Jersey on Friday, February 9, 2024. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network

GLOUCESTER CITY - Former Gloucester Catholic High School boys' basketball coach Todd Powers spent a decade at the helm before stepping down in 2021.

He returned to Ridgeway Street as the coach of Washington Township on Friday with his former assistant, Brandon Dougherty, on the other bench as the current coach at Gloucester Catholic.

The Rams spoiled Powers' homecoming with a 53-49 win in a Tri-County Conference matchup on Friday night. Gloucester Catholic also honored its 1997-98 team.

The Minutemen bolted out to a 8-0 lead before Jack Mustaro scored eight unanswered points of his own to tie the contest late in the first quarter. The Rams led after the first quarter and maintained their lead for the rest of the contest.

Gloucester Catholic led by as much as 20 points, but Washington Township didn't go down without a fight.

The Minutemen narrowed their deficit to 10 points after three quarters and seized momentum. Matt Rodia drained four 3-pointers in the second half, including a pair late in the fourth quarter. His last three-point field goal cut Gloucester Catholic's lead to six points with over a minute left to play.

Carlos Mendez and Trey Battle combined for 10 of Gloucester Catholic's 13 points in the fourth quarter points. Battle knocked down four straight free throw attempts to seal the victory.

"We've been in a few of these games already this year," Mendez said. "It's nothing new for us and we're going to try and make sure that once were ahead, the other team doesn't get a chance to comeback."

Battle finished with a game-high 19 points and scored 12 in the third quarter. His production helped terminate Washington Township's comeback bid. The senior has scored 15 or more points in five games this season.

A nearly 200-point margin exists between Mustaro and Battle as the Rams' top two scorers. Battle knew he needed to step up with the Minutemen focused on Mustaro.

"Once they came out in the second half really zeroing in on Jack on defense, I knew I had to step up," Battle said. "I'm always ready to rise to the occasion."

Friday night's nail biter was another test designed to help prepare the Rams for the playoffs.

"The postseason for the Tri-County Conference and state are coming up," Dougherty said, "so wins like this will help us move forward. We try to play a hard schedule so that we're ready for the playoffs. We'll see come time for the postseason if all of the heart attacks and sleepless nights pay off in the end."

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