Despite not playing for the Patriots' varsity team last year, Jerry Flynn has become a consistent double-figure scorer in his junior campaign (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
NORRISTOWN — If there’s one thing Jerry Flynn doesn’t lack, it’s confidence.
Had you not watched the junior play Wednesday night you’d have still figured it out from the grin Flynn flashed outside the Penn Wood locker room.
Four days after taking out No. 2 seed Holy Ghost Prep, the Patriots had just upset third-seeded Penncrest, and their leading scorer knew exactly what that meant.
“It’s a great feeling,” Flynn said of earning a spot in Saturday’s District 1 Class 5A final at Temple. “We almost gave up, but then we were like, ‘Yo, we really want this.’”
This, as Flynn referred to it, was an eventual 56-51 victory at Norristown High School in a game that seemed like it was going to get away from No. 7 seed Penn Wood. Leading 46-40 with less than four minutes to play, Penncrest had all the momentum.
Until it didn’t.
A set play for Flynn turned into an and-one to halve the deficit. A Saalih Moore triple 25 seconds later tied things. And six clutch free-throws in the final minute sealed the deal.
“The free-throw line has been our nemesis,” coach Matt Lindeman said. “But the last three games, our fourth-quarter free throws have been really, really good. It’s one of those crazy things. … We were about 52 percent for the season [before the playoffs].”
Four of those makes at the charity stripe came courtesy of Flynn, who wound up with 21 points and 10 rebounds — numbers that aren’t all that surprising given how the junior has played much of this season.
But a year ago, it was an entirely different story. As Penn Wood made the postseason, only to lose back-to-back games and end its season, Flynn wasn’t even on the Patriots’ varsity squad.
He played JV as a sophomore, and it wasn’t until the spring that he got a chance to show his stuff with the big boys.
Through the offseason, Flynn’s game grew — and so did he, adding four inches to his frame. By the fall, Lindeman sensed he had a real gamer on his hands.
“We [saw] we needed everything he does,” the fourth-year coach said of Flynn. “Rebounding, passing, he can run the whole offense if he has to.”
For the first time under coach Matt Lindeman (above), Penn Wood will be playing in a district final. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Although Flynn, at 6-foot-4, is one of the taller players in Penn Wood’s rotations, he’s got the handles and guard experience to play a point forward-type role for the Pats.
And they aren’t afraid to put the ball in his hands.
When Penn Wood faced its largest deficit of the night, trailing by a half-dozen, Lindeman took a timeout to remind his team that they were just two plays away from getting back even.
He also schemed up a play to ensure his do-it-all junior had a chance to potentially turn the tide.
That critical bucket not only pulled the Patriots within three but also sparked a 16-5 outburst over the final three minutes in a game where neither team could fully wrest control.
“They trust me,” Flynn said of his teammates and coaches. “I’m a big player on this team, so I feel like they trust me, and I trust them as well.”
There isn’t some secret sauce to a guy like Flynn. For a player to jump from JV to varsity and become the star of a team that’s going to be playing for a district is certainly rare.
But in Flynn, that’s precisely what Penn Wood has.
“He always had confidence,” Lindeman said. “He needed experience to back up his confidence because his confidence got him into bad situations, and he’d make bad plays. Now, he’s sticking to what he does, and we’ve got a really good player.”
Come Saturday, though, it’s all but certain Flynn won’t be the best player on the Liacouras Center floor. That title will fall to West Chester East senior Andrew Carr, who leads the Vikings into a second straight district final.
East rolled past West Chester Rustin 50-36 in the second half of Wednesday’s semifinal doubleheader, and Carr, a Delaware commit, racked up 23 points, 12 boards and six steals to give his team a third victory against the Golden Knights in less than a month.
If the Pats are going to have any shot to dethrone a third and final top-three seed, they’ll almost certainly need yet another shining performance from their star.
And Flynn, of course, is confident he can make that happen. Especially with some help from his teammates.
“Confidence comes from each other,” he said. “[We can beat anyone] when we’re playing together.”
Penn Wood: 14 | 6 | 14 | 22 | 56
Penncrest: 12 | 9 | 16 | 14 | 51
Penn Wood: 18-44 FG, 5-11 3PT, 15-18 FT
Penncrest: 20-46 FG, 5-16 3PT, 6-9 FT
Penn Wood: Flynn 21, Dublin 13, Baynes 11, Johnson 6, Moore 3, Goring 2
Penncrest: Atkinson-Boyer 15, Tomlin 10, Carroll 8, Potts 7, Lee 4, Quinn 4, Stanton 3