SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Hall of Fame coach or not, Bob Hurley Sr. was searching for answers during halftime Monday as his No. 4 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) team was locked in a tight game with No. 34 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
Miller Grove had tallied 21 second-quarter points to storm back within four of the Friars, and it seemed like just a matter of time until the Wolverines' star big man Tony Parker awoke from his first-half slumber.
Then came a quiet suggestion, but not from one of the basketball gods who has taken up residence at the Basketball Hall of Fame just miles down the street. Chalk this one up to Friars assistant Ben Gamble.
“As I’m walking upstairs, Ben Gamble, one of my assistants, says to me, ‘Maybe you start the second half in zone.’ And of course we never came out of it,” Hurley said with a laugh. “I come out looking like the genius, but Ben told me to do it.”
The Friars held the Wolverines to 22 second-half points thanks to a swarming 1-1-3 zone attack, paving the way for a 60-48 win. St. Anthony (11-0) has now won 44 straight games, dating back to last year’s POWERADE FAB 50 championship season.
It didn't hurt that Hurley had Kyle Anderson on his side, either. The St. Anthony senior guard seemed to have his hand in every aspect of the game, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“Kyle picking up his level of play probably had a lot to do with the second half and us getting the win, too,” Hurley said.
As has been the case with most of Miller Grove’s opponents this season, the Friars came in with a plan of collapsing on Parker in the post to disrupt his shots and force him to pass. With three or four long-armed Friars in his face, Parker was held to just six points, and St. Anthony easily topped Miller Grove on the glass, 32-19.
Meanwhile, Anderson was almost a one-man show, finding open teammates with pinpoint passes and having his way on offense with an assortment of fadeaways and strong drives to the lane.
The complete effort on both ends of the court had to feel familiar for the Friars. Last year at Hoophall, they topped DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) by 50 en route to the FAB 50 national championship. Currently sitting No. 4 in the rankings, St. Anthony appears poised to make a similar run this season.
“Last year, this was the time where everybody clicked," said Anderson, a UCLA commit. "So I think this year, over the next few games, this is where we’ll click and come together and hopefully get every game.”