Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
Josh Sherlock is a little tough to miss on a baseball field. He’s a rangy 6-foot-4 shortstop who if he keeps on playing basketball like he did Saturday night, the West Chester East sophomore is going to have himself a nice dilemma in a couple of years as to what sport he would like to play in college.
Sherlock did not have a defined role for the two-time defending Ches-Mont League basketball champs. In search of an identity, he struggled early this basketball season, trying to see where he fit.
Josh Sherlock (above) had 19 points as West Chester east advanced to another Ches-Mont Final. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)
It’s safe to say he’s found his place.
Sherlock did a lot of everything from rebounding, to scoring, to creating problems with his long arms, placing West Chester East in a position to threepeat as league champions after an easier-than-it-looked 59-52 victory over Great Valley at West Chester University’s Hollinger Field House in a Ches-Mont League semifinal.
The Vikings (17-6) will meet Downingtown West, 51-25 winners over Sun Valley, for the Ches-Mont championship on Tuesday at Hollinger in the second game of a girl-boy doubleheader.
Sherlock finished with 19 points, scoring seven points in the third quarter, where the Vikings took control.
“Basketball and baseball are two sports that I love, and I wouldn’t say I love one over the other,” Sherlock said. “I think I may have another inch to grow, and I still plan on being a shortstop. This was big for us. Coming into the game, we knew we had to stop (Cameron Wallace) and (Connor Gal) and keep them off the line.”
The Vikings received great balance, getting 11 points each from Ryan Price and Jack Kushner, who ignited East at halftime urging them to finish.
“We usually come slow after halftime, but we were down, and may have only been by a point, but we usually go into halftime with a lead,” said Kushner, who scored eight of 11 in the second half. “We’re usually flat in the second half. I just try to bring everyone together. We’re all like brothers, we’re all like family, so I was yelling that we needed to finish this game.
“Now that may have been a little more aggressive when I said it, but the message got across.”
To the amped volume where anyone down the hall from the East dressing room could have heard Kushner.
“It may be an overused word, ‘culture,’ but you can’t just win by making shots, you have to win by the whole package,” East coach Tom Durant said. “You have to beat them with energy, with toughness, with rebounding. Hopefully, everyone has that mentality.
“Competition brings it out. Give Great Valley their props. We had to fix our problems at halftime, and we had to play defense on (Wallace) and (Gal). They put a zone on us and we found our shooter (Price), who was 0-for-4 in the first half.”
West Chester East coach Tom Durant (above) guided his team to the 2020 Ches-Mont title behind current Delaware standout Andrew Carr. (Photo: Dan Hilferty/CoBL)
The Vikings went on a 10-0 from late in the third quarter to the early portion of the fourth to take control of the game. Wallace scored Great Valley’s first 10 points of the second quarter, and opened the third with a bucket that gave the Patriots (16-6) a momentary 23-22 lead.
The talented freshman didn’t score again until there was 5:51 left to play. By then, East was up 46-33.
“We did well in the first half and our defense broke down in the second half,” Great Valley coach C.J. Savage said. “We’re not out. We have a game on Friday and we’re No. 13 (in the district playoffs). I told Cameron (after the first quarter) to try to force it. Even though he’s great, he’s still a freshman. There are going to be ups and downs.
“We can take a lot from this. We need to be consistent. I’m proud of them. It was a tough loss against a good team. We’ll bounce back like we always do and made a run in the (district) playoffs.”
Great Valley: 7 | 14 | 8 | 23 || 52
West Chester East: 10 | 10 | 18 | 21 || 59
Great Valley: Cameron Wallace 22, Steven Mashette 12, Max DiMedio 8, Connor Gal 4, William Otterbein 3, Tyler Markowski 3
West Chester East: Josh Sherlock 19, Ryan Price 11, Jack Kushner 11, KJ Cochran 9, Jose Ramos 5, Stanley Porter 4
Downingtown West 51, Sun Valley 25
In the second game, Downingtown West used a third-quarter surge to take control of what was a close game towards a 26-point victory over Sun Valley.
Downingtown West’s Cooper Hardin led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Dylan Blair’s 16.
Now, it’s on to West Chester East, the two-time defending league champs, which Downingtown West swept during the regular season.
“We wanted to focus on this game against Sun Valley first, and then think about what’s ahead,” Blair said. “Now that we won, we’re obviously looking ahead at West Chester East. It’s going to be our third time playing this season, and we beat them twice, and we needed this to get our feet back under us after our loss against Henderson.
“We needed to get rejuvenated again.”
Downingtown West coach Stuart Ross did not take Sun Valley for granted.
“We did a good job executing our game plan and this wasn’t expected, we have expectations for ourselves playing hard,” Ross said. “Now we have West Chester East. They’re absolutely a good team. They’re going to play hard and they’re going to be tough and physical.
“Last year, we had a chance to be league champs and they beat us at our gym. We’re going to definitely take that feeling and use that as extra motivation.”
The last time Downingtown West won the Ches-Mont was in 2015, when Ryan Betley (Penn) and Josh Warren (Cornell) were leading the Whippets; they lost by one point in the championship game a year later.
Sun Valley: 8 | 4 | 4 | 9 || 25
Downingtown West: 9 | 11 | 16 | 15 || 51
Sun Valley: Chris Kwaidah 8, Nick Gianakopoulos 6, Evan Richardson 4, Bucky Grayston 3, Todd Harper 2, Ishmael Glasgow 2
Downingtown West: Cooper Hardin 18, Dylan Blair 16, Jake Warren 6, Donovan Fromhartz 4, Chris Owsik 3, Matt Zincone 2, Drew Shelton 2
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.