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Offensive slow-down helps Holy Spirit score big win over Camden Catholic

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher BUENA VISTA — The Holy Spirit High School boys basketball team made history on Sunday night, and for the Spartans players, the way in which they did it was completely, well, unnatural. Head coach Jamie Gillespie implored his squad to play a deliberate, slow-down style of offense, something they haven’t been accustomed to in recent years. Holy Spirit has a bunch of athletic players who like to play an up-tempo style, but Gillespie knew if his team did that it would be in trouble against one of the best teams in South Jersey. The plan worked, as Holy Spirit grinded out a 41-37 win over Camden Catholic, who came into the game with just one loss and had never lost a game in its previous 14 trips to the Shoot Down Cancer Classic at St. Augustine Prep. Tyler Jones puts up a shot during the Spartans' win over Camden Catholic. Jones scored nine points and added seven rebounds for Holy Spirit. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Tyler Jones puts up a shot during the Spartans’ win over Camden Catholic. Jones scored nine points and added seven rebounds for Holy Spirit. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “We’ve played them a lot over the years, and I told the kids yesterday that it’s not a game that you’re going to win (scoring) in the 60s. We’ve been through it a lot, and I’ve watched a lot of film on that team and that program and the success we’ve had, we’ve won them all like this,” Gillespie said. “Against that matchup, teams tend to force shots, and all of a sudden you are down six and now you are pressing. I told the kids that this is a game you win in the 40s and everybody needs to believe that. Patience is going to be the key.” Jordan Taylor led the Spartans (14-4) with 15 points and nine rebounds, and John Middleton, the Cape-Atlantic League’s leading scorer, finished with 12 despite sitting out much of the second half in foul trouble. Defense was the key for Holy Spirit, as Camden Catholic (16-2) shot just 12-of-39 from the floor and 6-foot-7 forwards Demola Onifade and Brendan Crawford were limited to a combined five points. “Our mindset was to come in here, get what we needed to get done, done, and just get the ‘W’. It was a little different. We had to slow it down and stay focused,” Taylor said. “It was tough defending them. They have some really tall guys, we just had to keep boxing them out.” “The biggest key is, the Crawford kid is a great player and we held him to two points. Jordan, when we were man-to-man on him, and we also did a good job of taking away their interior screening stuff when we went to our zone (defense),” Gillespie said. “We originally went to the zone to protect Middleton (from foul trouble), and they struggled against it so we stayed with it. We played a lot of minutes without Middleton tonight.” Jordan Taylor Drives past a pair of Camden Catholic defenders. Jordan led all scorers with 15 points, and also added nine rebounds, a game high. Jordan Taylor Drives past a pair of Camden Catholic defenders. Jordan led all scorers with 15 points, and also added nine rebounds, a game high. The Spartans and the Irish traded points throughout the first half before Taylor slammed home a missed shot to put Holy Spirit up 22-21 heading into the break. C.J. Barnes finished off the third quarter with a 3-point play that put Spirit up 37-32. A bucket by Courtney Cubbage pulled the Irish to within 40-37 with 2:15 left in the game, but Camden Catholic missed three 3-pointers in the final 1:30. “We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game. Coach (Gillespie) even said that before the game,” Taylor said. “This is a big win for us. We just have to keep it rolling and get ready for the playoffs.” “In the half court against the zone is where you have to be disciplined and patient, and take time off the clock. That was the game plan all along,” Gillespie said. “Tyler had a real good first half and Jordan has some real big buckets in the second half. If we would have made some foul shots we probably would have made things a lot easier on ourselves.” Gillespie said it was nice to get a key win in an important game. Holy Spirit plays an aggressive schedule and has lost some tough games, including one to Atlantic City that gave the Vikings the edge, for now, in the CAL American. “It’s good to be on (the winning) side. We’ve played a lot of good teams and lost some close games, so it’s good to be on this side of it,” Gillespie said. Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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