Haddonfield (N.J.) - Bishop Eustace was looking for another statement win in the young 2022 campaign after knocking off Olympic Conference foe Lenape. Their opponent standing in the way was conference and divisional rival, Paul VI.
Bishop Eustace's James Iannelli, pictured, scored a game-high 20 points in a 53-49 win over Paul VI on in Haddonfield on Thursday, December 22, 2022. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network
The Crusaders stormed out to a quick 11-7 lead and ended the first quarter leading 23-17. Bishop Eustace led for all but just about 30 seconds in the contest.
The X-factor in the game was James Iannelli's ability to finish at the rim. Iannelli finished with a game-high 20 points. Danny Mason chipped in a key 14, which included two triples with the other eight points coming in the paint.
"I fell like we shot the ball pretty well tonight," Iannelli said. "There's some things we needed to clean up at the half and when we made those adjustments it helped us pull away and close out the game."
Adiel Fred and Josh Eli combined for 29 points with Fred notching 15 and Eli tallying 14 for Paul VI.
Bishop Eustace's consistent shooting in the first half helped establish an early cushion.
"I feel like we shot really well in the first half which was the difference in my opinion, Bishop Eustace coach Robert Falconiero said. "I also think we played great defense despite it being a tough day for us in the rebound category."
The Crusaders' youth also stepped up in big spots throughout the game.
"We played four sophomores tonight and only one of them has minimal varsity experience, Falconiero said. "So for all of them to do their job was huge for us."
The Crusaders improved their record to 2-0 and own a pair of quality wins that should prepare them for their upcoming slate of games. Bishop Eustace will be challenged by St. Joseph Academy, Haddon Township and Camden Eastside.
"This is a huge win for us," Iannelli said. "To come into Paul VI's house and beat them is just a huge momentum builder for us as we move along."