St. Joseph toughness

David Healy

When he was seven years old, St. Joseph Catholic School eighth grader C.J. Moore would shoot 500 free throws everyday in his driveway.

Moore practiced so much because he knew that one day it would matter.

On Tuesday night, in the Irish’s 50-46 victory over Manchester Academy, Moore’s practice paid off.

Playing in a varsity game, the eighth grader calmly stepped to the line and made four clutch free throws in the game’s final minute. Moore’s free throws were crucial in preserving the St. Joe victory. Although the game was on the line, Moore said he was never nervous.

“I was confident I would make them. My daddy helped me get better at them,” Moore said. “I have been practicing free throws so much that I know that I can make them when I need to.”

St. Joseph trailed by nine points at the end of the third quarter, but the irish were never out of the game.

Junior stars Dillon Johnson and Trey benson helped the Irish get back into the game by making one sensational play after another. If Johnson wasn’t hitting a crucial 3-pointer or driving into the lane for a tough layup in traffic, Benson was pounding the glass or making his own tough basket amongst the Maverick defenders.

Dillon’s basket with four minutes left in the game tied the score at 38-38, but on the next possession Dillon fouled out of the game after being called for charging.

“Our defense stepped up at the end of the game,” St. Joseph coach James Hunter said. “I am proud of the players for the fact that they kept fighting and never gave up.”

The Irish improved their record to 6-3 with the victory and 1-1 conference play.

Johnson led the irish with 23 points. Benson finished the game with eight points, and Herman Brown scored six points.

Before fouling out, Johnson scored seven straight points in the fourth quarter to help the Irish get back in the game.

Coach Hunter said after the game that this year has been one of his most fun years ever as a basketball coach, and he believes that if the Irish keep working hard they can accomplish great things.

“My players have great personalities, and they are so much fun to be around,” Hunter said. “But, they are also intense and they want to win.”