Golden Bears bat­tle past Oc­torara

Public Spirit - - OPINION - By Nick Iuele

ni­uele@mont­gomerynews.

com Up­per Moreland made a good ar­gu­ment to­ward the end of sea­son and in the TuDUWHUfinDOV WKDW LW LV PuFK bet­ter than its 12-11 record sug­gests. The Bears made it D IDFW Ln WKH VHPLfinDOV.

Led by Matt hohn’s 28 points, Up­per Moreland downed Cin­derella eighth­seed Oc­torara 60-55. The BHDUV nHYHU flLnFKHG DV WKH Braves con­stantly brought WKH JDPH WR wLWKLn fiYH, us­ing clutch shoot­ing, re­bound­ing and de­fense to pro­pel them­selves into the GLVWULFW finDO DW VLOODnRYD.

“It’s a great feel­ing,” hohn said. “I think we have WKH uSSHU HGJH [Ln WKH finDO@ be­cause we are play­ing really good bas­ket­ball right now. It’s all about ex­pe­ri­ence; we were in this tour­na­ment last year and we’ve been in a lot of close games this year. We did a good job tonight.”

Oc­torara had just come off up­set­ting ko.1 seeded Holy Ghost Prep and were high on FRn­fiGHnFH, wKLOH WKH 1R. 4 Up­per Moreland en­tered the semis with a 20-point win over Pottstown in the quarWHUfinDOV unGHU LWV bHOW. ,W wDV in­ter­est­ing to see whether or not the Braves would keep rolling or have a big-win hang­over, but coach Brian Cor­rado and the Bears could not have cared less ei­ther way.

“Hon­estly, our mind­set is that it didn’t mat­ter who we were play­ing, they wanted a shot at go­ing to the district ti­tle game,” Cor­rado said. “The se­niors, the cap­tains and all the guys did a good job of fo­cus­ing on the next game. We knew if we win, we made it to the next step. They were up for the chal­lenge.”

Pro­ceed­ings were al­most even through­out the game, but it was the lit­tle things that sep­a­rated th­ese two teams. Whether it was get­ting af­ter a loose ball, snag­ging a key of­fen­sive re­bound or mak­ing the ex­tra pass, Up­per Moreland proved that they were the team most wor­thy of ad­vanc­ing and they did it with ex­pe­ri­ence.

The big­gest lead the Bears had all night was 10, but that came in the fourth quar­ter. 7KH fiUVW WKUHH SHULRGV VDw Up­per Moreland suc­cess­fully at­tack­ing the bas­ket on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. The Bears got in­side early as hevin McFall had six of his 15 points in the open­ing eight min­utes. How­ever, hohn was the star of the show, scor­ing 11 of his 28 in the sec­ond quar­ter on a com­bi­na­tion of drives to the bas­ket and spot-up jumpers. By half­time Up­per Moreland had a 30-23 lead and felt in con­trol.

“McFall and hohn are key for us,” Cor­rado said. “hohn is a three year starter in a very tough league. He has a lot of bat­tle ex­pe­ri­ence and it shines through in a game like this. vou hope you can get the guys to a stage like this and hevin is the same

way. He did a good job de­fen­sively, but he also came down with key re­bounds.”

Oc­torara never let the Bears get too com­fort­able, though. Ev­ery time Up­per Moreland started to pull away a bit, Mau­rice Bow­ers, who led the Braves with 19 points, would hit a bomb three from way be­yond the arc to spark his team back into the game. How­ever, when­ever the Bears needed to go in de­fen­sive mode, they locked down tight. They also used a size ad­van­tage, killing Oc­torara on the boards for the ma­jor­ity of the night.

“I ded­i­cate my­self to de­fense and re­bound­ing,” McFall said. “Scor­ing is nice, but you have to com­mit your­self to the lit­tle things in or­der to win and I pride my­self on do­ing that. We are go­ing to have to run, get re­bounds and play tough against Pope John Paul if we want to win.”

Up­per Moreland went into WKH finDO HLJKW PLnuWHV uS MuVW fivH, EuW WKHLU FRn­fidHnFH never wa­vered. Even if Bow­ers hit a big three to inch the Braves closer, the Bears just coun­tered with a McFall layin or con­verted free throws. Up­per Moreland was eight for 12 from the char­ity stripe in the fourth, good enough to keep the op­po­si­tion from feel­ing too good about their chances of a full come­back.

The Bears knew that OcWRUDUD wRuOd FRPH Ln fly­LnJ high, but they smoth­ered all emo­tion and played a good, hard-fought bas­ket­ball game. TKHy dHVHUvH WR EH Ln WKH finDO against Pope John Paul II and it will cer­tainly be an in­ter­est­ing bat­tle given Up­per Moreland’s mo­men­tum.

“I’m really happy for the kids,” Cor­rado said. “It’s a great win and I’m proud of them, they worked hard. We have an­other goal in mind and we are look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge on Satur­day.”

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