North Penn stunned by Upper Darby
The North Penn boys basketball team needed to muscle through one last screen to persevere one more time. However a six-foot senior point guard named huity Slanger silenced the visitors and helped his team avoid an upset by drilling a threepoint basket from the top of the key.
Sitting in the locker room dejected back in January with a 5-10 record, the hnights would have settled IRU D ORVV Ln WKH fiUVW URunG of the District lne Class AAAA playoffs. But that is before they actually took the flRRU DnG IRunG WKHPVHOvHV seconds away from the second round. ln Friday, the 45-44 loss to Upper Darby left the hnights’ devastated and shocked.
“te gave this team that is ranked much higher than us a great game,” hnights’ senior captain Michael Swanson said. “I am proud of the way my teammates and I fought and the ball just did not bounce our way at the end.”
A seven-game win streak to close out the regular season landed them the 24th seed and their defensive effort against the ninth-seeded Royals allowed them to a hold a seven-point lead with two minutes left in the fourth TuDUWHU. 7KH vDULHWy RI zRnHV and match-ups confused the second place team from the Central League. The Royals were unable to get their guards space and they turned the ball over 20 times in the game. The hnights held a lead throughout the stopDnG-VWDUW finDO VHFRnGV.
“They have been undersized all year and I thought they did a great job rebounding,” hnights coach John Conrad said. “te had a couple chances down the stretch to make free throws and we FRuOG nRW GR LW. ,n WKH finDO seconds we let them have too many rebounds and it did us in.”
After missing a few foul shots and failing to pull down defensive rebounds,
the Royals received one last clean look with a side inbound pass with 10.6 seconds left on the clock. It was the hnights’ ability to rebound that allowed them to take a 22-21 score and use a 22-6 run to establish that the upset was becoming a reality. Leading the charge on the glass was the 6-foot-1 Swanson, who pulled in six boards and scored a game high 13 points.
“Coach had them on point and the game plan was exactly right,” Swanson said. “I knew they could run a little bit, we knew their tendencies and knew what each player could do. There were streaks when we were rebounding and streaks when were not, but we played physical until the end.”
Swanson drained a three- pointer and hit two free throws in the fourth quarter and had the hnights at another level. Slanger was relegated to dishing to nuaGLU 5LFH, WKR fiQLSKHG WLWK 13 points. The only time 6ODQJHU FRUOG fiQG DWDY around the hnights’ Stephan Brown was after a time out on a play drawn up to get the ball in the hands of Royals’ go-to guy. tith two threepointers in the fourth quarWHU, 6ODQJHU fiQLSKHG WLWK 10 points.
“Steph did a great job on him all game,’ Conrad said. “They had to go out and gap block him to get open. They gave me that effort all year and I am really proud of them. They played their hearts out and came out on the wrong end tonight.”
No one expected the hnights to be even in the district playoffs even after a fiVH-JDPH WLQ SWUHDN. 7KHQ at six in a row the 32nd seed and chance to lose to Chester was an option. But the 24th seed and seconds away from WKH fiQDO 16 WHDPS SODYLQJ LQ the district were not in the wildest dreams. There is no doubt that the dejection the hnights immediately felt on Friday will quickly fade to pride.
“Right now it is painful,” Conrad said. “These kids have taught me more than I have been able to teach them about being tough. They never stopped battling and I am so proud of them.” respect our shot. They got some questionable charge calls. It is frustrating. I don’t know what else to say.”
As hanas watched the tarriors rally back with an 8-0 run, a few whistles uncharacteristically got under his skin. An offensive charge call on the Indians’ Brendan tagner was made WRUSH WLWK WKH fiUSW WHFKQLcal foul call on hanas. After Matt Forrest hit both his foul shots the tarriors led 37-35 and never looked back.
hanas picked up a second technical foul a few minutes later and was done for the night as the game headed LQWR WKH fiQDO fiVH PLQUWHS. The senior’s ejection forces him to miss Friday’s game against the Titans.
“te lost our composure,” Indians coach Pete Chimera said. “There was a chain of events that were out of our control. te were doing great, running our stuff, and it seems like the big turnaround was the offensive foul on tagner.”
The Indians have not played WLWKRUW .DQDS RQ WKH flRRU RIten this season, but had to do so in the biggest game of the season. Senior Dan l’Hara came off the bench and a three-point play brought the Indians back to within one point, but that was as close as the Big Red came. The IndiDQS SKRW 3-IRU-11 LQ WKH fiQDO quarter. Behind hanas in scorLQJ WDS :DJQHU, WKR fiQLSKHG with nine points and three rebounds.
“I thought Brendan did a nice job,” Chimera said. “tithout hanas we drew up things for Brendan and things for Austin (Murphy). te tried to get them going, but Methacton did nice a MRE. :H KDVH WR fiJUUH LW RUW quick because Friday we have to play without him.”
tagner battled foul trouble all game, as he was given the task of shutting down tarriors’ leading scorer, senior Brendan Casper. Casper scored six points early and 10 LQ WKH fiQDO TUDUWHU DS KH fiQished with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The tarriors did enough GHIHQSLVHOY WR fiQG D WDY to make the continuous momentum shifts stop in their favor. There is nothing the tarriors have not seen yet, and that is what has them excited moving forward.
North Penn’s Erin Maher cuts between Souderton defenders for a basket during Wednesday’s District One Class AAAA playoff action.