No Love Lost

No Love Lost

Rambler hoops duo sparks rivalry comeback victory

One of Pennsylvania’s most anticipated basketball games took place Tuesday night at Paul Goll Gymnasium, where the Cathedral Prep Ramblers men’s varsity basketball team took on the McDowell Trojans. This game lived up to the hype and became an instant classic. 

Heading into the game, both sides were at two completely different points in their season. A young Prep squad with a new coaching staff came in at 7-8 with the Ramblers starting to gel at the right time. McDowell came in red hot at 10-2. The Trojans, led by senior guard Tyler Grove, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds, looked like the comfortable favorites leading into tipoff. 

The main storyline coming into the game was the return of Prep’s sophomore guard Nando Mirarchi (’26). After leading the Trojans to a surprising win last year against Prep with 11 points as a freshman, Nando surprisingly transferred to Prep this fall, making his return similar to Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City in 2017. 

“Honestly, as the game was approaching, I was a little nervous but mostly had no negative thoughts,” Nando said. “The day I decided to leave McDowell, I could not wait to come back the following year as a Rambler and play them. I think I prepared myself mentally for the moment since the day I left. All my emotions and feelings disappeared once I got on the court.”

Another crucial story pregame was the amount of minutes senior guard Amaree Pickens (’24) would see, as he has been struggling with a shoulder injury all season. 

“Coming off the injury, I didn’t know if I would be the same player I was before, but being under the biggest stage as a Prep player, I proved to myself that I could play through whatever, and it gave the team a chance to prove everyone wrong and showed we can play through adversity,” Amaree said. “I feel it was a game to show the city that we can play even when the odds are stacked against us.”

It was a back-and-forth contest throughout the first half with Prep going into halftime down three points. Midway through the third quarter, McDowell started to pull away with a 14-point lead with the score 43-29. You could tell that the momentum was gradually leaning in McDowell’s favor by how their student section erupted after an impactful three-pointer. 

“The atmosphere for the Prep vs. McDowell game is always amazing,” Nando said. “As the game starts, you can hear both student sections doing chants and talking to the opposing teams, but as the game gets closer and closer, you really can’t understand what anyone is saying because of how loud it is.”

With the game slowly slipping for the Ramblers, crucial defensive plays by seniors Joe Spano Jr (’24) and RJ Roberts (’24) and some help from range by freshman Ahmari Horton (’28), sophomore Michael Thompson (’26), and junior Spencer Kanne (’25), and the Ramblers entered the fourth quarter down by two points. Then, Mirarchi and Pickens took over. The backcourt duo combined for 39 points and shared the load on offense to secure the tight-knit 64-60 victory. 

Round 2 of the highly anticipated rematch takes place on Feb. 16 at the Hagerty Family Events Center at 7:30 p.m. It will be a must-see basketball matchup. 

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