An Emotional Win for St. Joseph Academy

An Emotional Win for St. Joseph Academy
Paul Rodio is in his seventh season as head basketball coach of St. Joseph Academy in Hammonton and he has built the Wildcats into one of the top programs in South Jersey. 
 
That was further demonstrated during a 57-51 win over perennial state power St. Augustine. 
 
Despite the win, facing St. Augustine is a game that Rodio has mixed emotions about.
 
He loves having his team face top-flight competition but it’s a game that places a major emotional toll on him.
 
The reason?
 
It’s because St. Augustine is coached by his father, also named Paul.
 
“It was very emotional,” the younger Rodio said. “It is tough, you are playing your dad and without him I would never have had the opportunity to be where I am. I was very happy for our players but I also felt bad.”
 
That was the first time that he had beaten his father in a high school game. 
 
Senior Marcus Pierce, who Rodio thinks is among the top guards in South Jersey, led the way with 22 points.
 
“Marcus is a great player who really turns it on in big games,” Rodio said. “I feel that Marcus is a Division I player and he certainly showed it in this game.”
 
Dom Thomas, a senior transfer from Clearview contributed 11 points for St. Joseph while junior Ja’son Prevard, added 10. 
 
Matthew Delaney, a 6-7 senior who is headed to American University, led St. Augustine with 20 points.
 
Prevard, the football quarterback, added much more than scoring in the win.
 
“He took a big charge on Delaney which got in foul trouble and changed the whole dynamic of the game,” Rodio said. 
 
St. Joseph didn’t have a letdown in its next games, defeating Vineland, 69-38, as Pierce score a game-high 21 points. 
 
The Wildcats began the week with a 4-0 record. 
 
As outlined previously, St. Joseph has gone through plenty of adversity just to get to this point. In April, the Camden diocese announced that it was shutting down five schools, including St. Joseph due to declining enrollment.
 
St. Joseph has managed to stay open, but the basketball team must play all of its games on the road. 
 
Now the Wildcats are living up to their billing as one of South Jersey’s top teams.
 
Of course, St. Joseph can’t rest on its laurels, especially since it has a rematch at St. Augustine on Feb. 18.
 
Beating the Hermits once in a season is a tough enough task, but doing so twice is doubly difficult. Of course, what is more difficult is facing his father. 

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“Emotionally I don’t want to deal with it and neither does my dad,” Rodio said. “The kids like. Me and my dad don’t, but it is great for the players.”


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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo Courtesy of St Joseph Academy

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