War­riors falls to Con­estoga

The Colonial - - OPINION - By Peter DiGio­vanni

They say de­fense wins cham­pi­onships. Well, in the sec­ond round of the District One Class AAAA play­offs at Con­estoga High School on Tues­day, the top-seeded Pi­o­neers rode a sparkling team de­fen­sive per­for­mance, in­clud­ing a big block late in the game by Martin Dorsey, to a thrilling 45-40 win over No. 18 Methac­ton.

The win qual­i­fies them for the PIAA Class AAAA tour­na­ment and keeps their hopes of win­ning the district ti­tle alive. Con­estoga will now play Cen­tral League foe Lower Me­rion Fri­day night at home for the right to go to the District One Fi­nal Four at Tem­ple Univer­sity. Lower Me­rion has de­feated Con­estoga twice al­ready this sea­son, but the Pi­o­neers are happy for the matchup with the highly touted Aces.

“It was my main goal for our team be­fore the sea­son started to make the state play­offs,” Zack Yonda said. “And to get Lower Me­rion on our floor in the play­offs is what I live for. It is go­ing to be a great game.”

Methac­ton must travel to Penn Wood on Fri­day in the play-back round with a state berth still pos­si­ble.

Con­estoga (22-4) had con­trol of the game from the out­set as the War­riors (169) strug­gled to make shots from the field. Methac­ton shot just 14-for-46 on the night and 5-for-23 in the first half when they fell into a 2013 hole.

Con­estoga seemed a step quicker and were get­ting good looks in­side due to some great in­te­rior pass­ing from Dar­ryl Cald­well and Dan Vila, while the War­ri­uors were set­tling for out­side shots.

“We strug­gled to get our shots to fall,” Methac­ton coach Jeff Der­s­tine said. “But we re­ally bat­tled back and had the (Con­estoga) lead down to three. They are a very good team and they have a deep bench. There is not much drop off when they go to the bench. We started to hit some shots in the fourth pe­riod and I am proud of the way the kids bat­tled back, but it is tough to win when you only score 13 points in the first half.”

Con­estoga broke the game

21st Century Me­dia News

Ser­vice

There’s a rea­son that num­ber-one seeded teams in the NCAA Di­vi­sion One tour­na­ment have never lost a first round game, and that there have only been seven two-seeds up­set in March Mad­ness his­tory: top seeded teams are al­ways re­ally, re­ally good.

Be­cause of the na­ture of high seeds, people gen­er­ally ex­pect tour­na­ment games where high seeds take on low seeds to be blood­baths.

This was not so on Satur­day night, though, at Con­estoga when the topseeded Pi­o­neers faced the 32nd-seeded Nor­ris­town Ea­gles in the first round of the District One Class AAAA play­offs. The Ea­gles nipped at Con­estoga through­out the en­tire con­test — and found them­selves down only four with less than a minute in the third — but fell be­hind in the fourth as their up­set bid was soured in the Pi­o­neers’ 47-34 vic­tory.

“We ex­pected Nor­ris­town to give us a tough game,” Con­estoga coach Mike Troy said. “They’re well coached, and they al­ways bat­tle and bat­tle and bat­tle. They al­ways play teams tough. We ex­pected them to come in and give us a re­ally tough bat­tle.”

Well, a tough bat­tle is ex­actly what the Pi­o­neers got. Nor­ris­town ac­tu­ally held the first lead of the game, scor­ing the ini­tial bucket and an­other shortly af­ter to put Con­estoga in a small 4-1 hole early. Though the Pi­o­neers were able to bat­tle back and take the first 18-9, the Ea­gles didn’t mail it in.

Us­ing a strong six-point quar­ter by Chris Evans, Nor­ris­town chipped a point off of the Pioneer lead and went into the half down only 2719.

The first 7:57 of the third went even bet­ter for the Ea­gles, as they cut their deficit to four on a big three-pointer by Curt Lever within the fi­nal minute, and looked to be headed into the fourth down only 34-30.

The Pi­o­neers weren’t quite done. With less than 10 sec­onds on the clock in the third, Dan Vila drib­bled up the court look­ing to sti­fle any Nor­ris­town mo­men­tum, and did, nail­ing a buzzer-beat­ing three pointer to stretch the Con­estoga lead to 37-30.

Nor­ris­town wilted in the fourth, scor­ing only four points on Khalif Sin­clair’s three and free throw en route to a fi­nal score that made the game seem less close than it ac­tu­ally was.

“We just missed bas­kets and missed de­fen­sive as­sign­ments,” Nor­ris­town coach Mike Evans said. “We didn’t make shots when we had to. That’s what it came down to — they made shots and we didn’t.”

Three Con­estoga scor­ers fin­ished in dou­ble dig­its. Dar­ryl Cald­well, Zack Yonda and Martin Dorsey scored 16, 11, and 11, re­spec­tively.

With the loss, Nor­ris­town’s sea­son is done. Chris Evans led the Ea­gles with 12 points, de­spite be­ing shut out in the fourth. Sin­clair fin­ished with 11.

“We over­came a rough sea­son,” Mike Evans said. “We weren’t able to prac­tice (as much as we wanted). We just came out and worked hard. We over­came a lot, and I’m proud of my se­niors for over­com­ing the ob­sta­cles that we went through. open in the third pe­riod, Yonda, who led all scor­ers with 15 points, and point guard Dar­ryl Cald­well, were the key play­ers in the up­ris­ing. When Cald­well scored off a turnover late in the pe­riod for a 30-21 lead, it looked like a de­ci­sive blow against the War­riors as they went into the fourth trail­ing, 34-23.

But looks can be de­ceiv­ing. Sean Mann drilled a three-pointer from the left cor­ner to make it 36-30 game with 5:43 to play and it was game on. Vila an­swered for Con­estoga as he scored from in tight to bump the lead to eight.

Methac­ton scored four straight points to cut the ad­van­tage in half, and was look­ing for more. Up went Mann for an­other long three­p­oint try, but Dorsey flew up and blocked the shot. He gath­ered in the loose ball and fed Andrew Diehl, who threw down a monster slam for a 40-34 lead as the home crowd was on its feet.

“The same guy just hit a three-pointer for them, so when I saw them go for it again I knew I had to go get it,” Dorsey said. “And I was lucky enough to block it and give the ball to Diehl for the throw down. It was a tough game and they came back, so I knew I had to make a play. And to be hon­est, I am glad we are go­ing to be play­ing Lower Me­rion. They have beaten us twice this sea­son, but now we get them on our home court and this place will be packed and we hope­fully can beat them and send the crowd home happy.

“We are ex­cited to make states, but we want to win the district cham­pi­onship, so we have to get by Lower Me­rion to do that.”

Dorsey’s and Diehl’s hero­ics did not stop Methac­ton how­ever. Mann came back down the floor and drilled an­other three-ball to cut the lead to 40-37 with 1:27 to play. Con­estoga called time and coach Mike Troy had his team spread the floor and put the ball into Cald­well’s hands. The star sopho­more drib­bled off some clock, then was fouled and hit two free throws to make it a 4237 game with 1:02 to play.

Methac­ton’s cold shoot­ing ways came back to haunt them as they couldn’t make a dent in the lead and the top seed was mov­ing on.

“It is a great thing for these kids to make the state play­offs,” Troy said. “It is a trib­ute to how hard they have worked and their work ethic. Tonight, our de­fense and our de­fen­sive re­bound­ing won the bas­ket­ball game for us. To play Lower Me­rion, or any­body, is the same thing at this point. We just play who is in front of us and hope­fully, try to get to our goal.”

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