Tigers claw Redskins; stay unbeaten in SOL
Two teams met last Friday night at Truman High School facing the same challenge.
Both Neshaminy and the home Tigers are breaking in a number of new varsity players, making each squad very green in their own respective ways.
By night’s end, one had showed the ability to overFRPH WKDW REsWDFOH DnG finG pieces to turn to around a star player. That team was Truman, which nabbed 22 turnovers and dominated on both ends of the court behind another solid performance from Merdic Green. The result was a 59-24 drubbing to give the Tigers a victory in both teams’ Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference opener.
“We had to work on what we didn’t do in our last game,” said Truman small forward Marcus Palmer.
7KH MunLRU DnG fiUsW-yHDU starter was referring to pressuring the ball defensively DnG UunnLng WKH flRRU wKHn his team had a chance. That is the Tigers’ ammo, something that didn’t quite come to fruition Dec. 11 at Norristown. Three players registered double-digit scoring in that game for Norristown and Truman had no answer after keeping it close at halftime. The Tigers wound uS ORsLng WKHLU fiUsW FRnWHsW of the year by a 74-41 score.
Truman, however, got right back on track against the Redskins. The Tigers started fairly slow offensively, but the Redskins couldn’t capitalize due to a rash of turnovers. Eventually, Truman’s offense kicked into gear as it poured on the transition game and kickout jumpers. Green scored sHvHn SRLnWs Ln WKH fiUsW quarter, while Palmer added six. Late in that period, Patrick Stone buried a pair of 3-pointers, the last of which was a buzzer-beater that sent the crowd into a frenzy pushing the Tigers out to a 21-5 edge.
“We were looking to make them uncomfortable from the start,” said Stone, a junior shooting guard. He finLsKHG wLWK HLgKW SRLnWs Ln the victory. “Coming off the bench, I’m trying to create a spark right off the bat.”
Stone did just that not just with his shooting, but also defensively. He had sevHUDO sWHDOs Ln WKH fiUsW KDOI WR contribute to 19 turnovers forced by the defense in that span. Conversely, the Tigers were much more responsible with the ball, as they committed just 11 turnovers by game’s end, several of which came with reserves playing after the intermission.
Neshaminy put together a better second half, but it was much too little, too late. The Redskins gave the ball away only three times in that span and hit more jumpers in the fourth quarter than they did Ln WKH fiUsW 16 PLnuWHs.
“That’s going to be the scouting report for everyone we see,” said Neshaminy coach gerry Devine about the pressure and running of opponents.
The Redskins are in a tough predicament without the services of now graduated guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who is currently playing at sillanova University. While he missed last season with an injury, there were seven other seniors on that squad, all of whom have also since moved on. That has forced Devine to bring up seven sophomores from last year’s freshman team WR KHlS fill WKH URVWHU. 2nH RI them, namely g.R. Stevens, is starting, as is freshman Shammond Thomas.
“We’re really just playing with a gs team,” said Devine, who is in his seventh year with Neshaminy.
“What’s frustrating about it is they work hard. They want to get better,” he added. “They’re just overmatched right now.”
Leading the way for the Redskins against Truman was junior gaylen Picket, who scored nine points in the losing effort. Senior Garret Denis chipped in a pair of 3-pointers and sophomore Trevor Lang an additional four points off the bench. Considering the only seniors are Denis, Mark Leonhauser and Stephan Tucker and that just one of them (Tucker) is in the starting lineup, this is a young team that will be able to grow into a formidable opponent in the months and seasons to come.
But, that will take time and some pains along the way. With the loss, Neshaminy fell to 0-4 overall DnG 0-1 Ln WKH S2L 1DWLRnDl. Meanwhile, the ‘Skins have yet to score more than 40 points in a game. The clos- est they has come in defeat was 17 to Holy Ghost Prep on Dec. 11.
“It’s a process of getting better,” said Devine. “We’re excited about the young guys that we have.”
Truman, meanwhile, is off to a 3-1 start and beat Holy Ghost, 50-48, in the championship game of the season tipoff tournament hosted by the Tigers. They have held all but Norristown under 50 points and have gotten solid contributions from Green in the process.
“That’s our game plan. Rebound and run,” said Green, a senior who has started all four years with Truman. He is playing at the point this season and currently considering Harcum and Dean Colleges to continue his basketball career.
“It’s going to be a tough season because we have a lot of young guys,” continued Green, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the Neshaminy victory. “But, they’re getting there because they pushed hard over the summer.”
Palmer also had eight points in the win to help spell Green. All told, 13 players scored for the Tigers, eight of whom came off the bench. That type of balance coming from a team wLWK MuVW fivH VHnLRUV, Rnly one of which is a starter, gives the Tigers the potenWLDl WR bHWWHU lDVW yHDU’V fiUVWround District I tournament exit.
Truman senior Merdic Green led the Tigers with 15 points in his team’s double-digit win over Neshaminy Dec. 14 at home.