READING – Izaiah Brockington got his assignment immediately after Archbishop Ryan had advanced to face Hempfield in the PIAA State 6A tournament quarterfinals.
Ryan coach Joe Zeglinski wasted no time telling the multi-talented senior guard, headed to NJIT for a college basketball career, that his job was to stop Ryan Moffatt the lanky guard who is the cog in the Black Knights’ patient, spread-the-floor offense.
Brockington got the job done, holding Moffatt to seven points and scoring a game-high 20 points himself as the Raiders joined the parade of Philadelphia teams to the semifinals across six classes with a 60-50 win over Hempfield, the District 3 runnerup.
“It was a big part of the game plan,” Brockington told SPORTSfever after the win. “It’s nothing new. I’ve done it all year.”
Ryan broke free of Hempfield late in the first quarter and led at halftime 28-19.
With Ryan’s double-digit lead melting down to five midway through the third quarter, Brockington scored 10 straight points and the Raiders entered the fourth quarter ahead 40-29.
“I knew I was shooting poorly in the first half,” said Brockington. “I knew I had to come out in the second half and be aggressive.”
Hempfield was able to draw within six at 53-47 with 1:05 left in the game before Ryan closed it out by making seven of eight free throws in the final minute.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Brockington. “This is our first time (in the state tournament). It’s a great experience. It was one of our goals.”
Matiss Kulackovskis also scored 20 points for Ryan. David Martin-Robinson led Hempfield with 16 points and Bryan Karl had 10.
As has been the case since the Philadelphia Public and Catholic leagues joined the PIAA, teams from PIAA District 12 are dominating once again.
Brockington said playing basketball in Philadelphia gives those teams in the state tournament an edge.
“Definitely,” said Brockington. “There’s a sense of confidence. The Catholic League is considered one of the top leagues in the state. Playing the teams we play, we’re prepared for anything thrown at us.”
Now 23-5, Ryan faces the winner of the Reading-Plymouth Whitemarsh game at Temple University on Sunday afternoon in the state semifinal on Tuesday night.
Hempfield finishes it season 21-10.