JACKSON -- Keith Palek has been delivering big shots for St. Augustine all season.
In Wednesday’s South Non-Public A final win over Camden Catholic, he took that to the next level by scoring 18 points in the Hermits’ 51-47 win.
“He does this consistently,” St. Augustine’s Elmarko Jackson said. “I think he’s really one of the most underrated players on our team.
Amazing shooter, amazing playmaker, his IQ is off the chart. He’s a clutch player. Words can’t describe how good of a player Keith is.”
Palek knocked down four three-pointers, one in each quarter, to keep the momentum on St. Augustine’s side for most of the contest.
“We knew they were going to play a 2-3 zone and we were going to get some shots,” Palek said. “My teammates found me and I was able to knock them down.”
St. Augustine also benefited from an impressive defensive outing in the first quarter, as it limited the Irish to five points and over seven minutes without a basket.
“I feel like our team plays off our defense,” Jackson said. “It definitely created a whole bunch of offensive shots for us.”
The Hermits conceded 14 points off four field goals and five free throws before halftime, where they had an eight-point advantage.
Camden Catholic eventually made a push in the fourth quarter behind Zach Hicks, but past experience in that situation helped the Hermits get through it.
“Our coaching staff was a little nervous, but as players we weren’t,” Jackson said. “Monday when we played PVI, they did the same thing. They came back and made a little run at the end of the fourth and we prevailed. We’re no stranger to these types of situations.”
Jackson finished off the game with a pair of free throws in front of the Richland Rowdies student section.
The win completed a run of victories over Non-Public rivals Bishop Eustace, Paul VI
and Camden Catholic.
It was even sweeter since the championship was earned against an Irish team that knocked the Hermits out of the postseason in previous seasons.
“That was in the back of our heads for sure,” Palek said. “Our last three seasons, they ended it for us, but we got our revenge this year.”
“It makes it amazing, especially doing it against Camden Catholic because they knocked us out the last two years,” Jackson said.
“We liked it because we started the season as an underdog. Everybody was counting us out after we lost four seniors last year. It made us hungry dogs, as one of our coaches calls us.”