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SOL Playoffs: Fisher's big day powers Pennridge past Bensalem

02/08/2020, 11:45pm EST
By Josh Verlin

Trent Fisher (above) had 21 points and nine rebounds as Pennridge topped Bensalem in the SOL semifinals. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Trent Fisher took over instantly.

The Pennridge big man had five points before the Rams’ Suburban One League semifinal against Bensalem was even a minute old, opening with a nifty post move before stepping out to knock down a 3-pointer. But the 6-foot-6 senior wasn’t done there: he got to the foul line and hit both, then stepped out for another triple. 

It was only at that point that Bensalem called timeout, down 11, the fans barely settled into their seats.

“At the beginning of warmups, I felt like I was really good shooting the ball,” Fisher said. “I knew I was going to be able to find my shot tonight, knowing that (the defense would) probably play off me, looking at me as a bigger guy that they’re not going to guard up on me as much.”

As long as Fisher was on the court Saturday evening, the Owls didn’t stand a chance. 

Aside from a first-half run where foul issues kept him on the sideline, Fisher proved to be a two-way force. The Pennridge forward finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two assists as the Rams advanced to the SOL championship game for the second straight year after a 56-39 win over the Owls.

They'll play Cheltenham, who had earlier beaten Central Bucks West, on Monday night at Council Rock South.

Fisher, who said he’s being recruited by D-IIIs Wilkes and Arcadia, hit 8 of the 11 shots he took, including 3-of-5 from downtown, taking advantage of mismatches whenever possible. 

“He brings so much energy, on defense, too –– if someone gets beat, we know he’s there,” senior guard Christian Guildin said. “And then he’s such a dominant force on offense, so once he starts getting going with one-on-one post moves, then he can kick it out and that’s when we get our shooters rolling, and it’s hard to stop that.”

Bensalem (17-6) found that out the hard way. Fisher’s hot start helped Pennridge (17-6) out to a 16-2 start, but he spent the majority of the second quarter on the bench after picking up his second personal foul. The Owls climbed back into it with a 15-6 second quarter to get within 24-21 at halftime, doing most of their damage at the foul line. 

But with Fisher back on the floor in the second half, Pennridge got rolling once again. The lead was back to 38-29 by the end of the third quarter, and reached 18 early in the fourth as the Rams put the game away. 

“We try to get in transition and try to get some easy buckets, and I was trying to slow the game down in the beginning,” Pennridge head coach Dean Behrens said. “And then I was like, ‘what am I doing? Let’s go back and play Pennridge basketball.’”

Behrens let Guildin lose in the second half and the recent DeSales commit responded with a 14-point, 10-rebound, three-assist performance, getting the ball up ahead in transition to junior wing Colin Post (7 points/6 assists), who found Fisher and the team’s bevy of shooters.

“We realized that when we push the ball, we were getting easy layups,” said Guildin, whose older brother Michael Guildin also played at both Pennridge and DeSales. “We had Trent leaking, he had a few dunks. Just pushing the ball up the court, getting open shots, really helped us.”

Monday night, Pennridge will have a chance to accomplish something last year’s group –– which, in case you forgot, went all the way to the PIAA Class 6A championship game behind current Navy freshman Sean Yoder and his fellow seniors –– didn’t: win the league title. Yoder’s Rams were stymied in the championship game by Abington, first in the SOL title game then again in the district semifinals.

Bringing it home against Cheltenham would mean a little bit of bragging rights over last year’s group, not to mention some validation that this year’s group can accomplish something separately from the memories of last season.

“People had a lot of doubt coming into this year knowing that we lost our two best players last year, lost in the state championship, everyone’s saying we’re going to struggle in the league this year, and then we won the (Continental),” Fisher said. “Now we’re just going to try to prove in ourselves, try to win this for us right now and just do it for the first time, because we’ve never done this, won the SOL in Pennridge history, so it’d be huge for us.”

By Quarter

Pennridge:  18 | 6 |  14 | 18 | 56

Bensalem:   6 | 15 |   8 | 10 | 39

Pennridge: 21-48 FG, 7-18 3PT, 7-10 FT

Bensalem: 11-45 FG, 3-12 3PT, 14-20 FT

Pennridge: Fisher 21, Guldin 14, Post 7, Benscoter 6, Croyle 3, Pleibel 3, Yoder 2

Bensalem: Alexander 10, Sanders 7, Ashford 7, Robinson 5, Kohli 5, Ebner 3, Maddela 2

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