Zak Wolf (@ZakWolf22)
This late in the season, being in close games is almost second nature to Bishop Shanahan. The Eagles had 10 of their first 25 games decided by three points or fewer; in both their wins and losses, Shanahan has experienced tight games that have gone down to the wire. Their District 1 5A playback game on Wednesday at Upper Moreland was no different.
The Eagles were able to sneak by the Golden Bears 43-41 to clinch the number three seed out of the district heading into the 5A state playoffs.
Zane Dohmson (above) scored 18 points in Shanahan's win over Upper Moreland. (Photo: Zak Wolf/CoBL)
“Every game this season has been tight for us, and we’re used to that,” senior guard Zane Dohmson said. “We just have experience and it showed today.”
The experience was needed when Shanahan (14-12) found themselves down 39-35 with 2:45 left in the game. After being in situations like this all year long, Shanahan didn’t panic and let their senior leadership take over.
Dohmson came up big time, hitting his third three of the quarter to give him 18 points and cut the lead to one. Upper Moreland then turned the ball over on the next possession which led to Ben Rodner-Tims getting a layup off an out of bounds play, giving Shanahan a 41-40 lead with under a minute to play.
Dohmson, along with fellow senior Will O’Laughlin combined to score 13 of Shanahan’s 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead their team to victory.
“They have been our leaders this season, all off season and doing workouts and stuff, they’re the ones that we leaned on heavily,” Shanahan head coach John Dougherty said. “We give them a lot more responsibility than a regular 17- or 18-year-old, but they’ve earned it and they can handle it.”
Upper Moreland had a couple good looks down low on their last possession from Byron Hopkins (17 points) and Matt Tiernan (7 points), but couldn’t get either to fall, giving Shanahan the win.
For Bishop Shanahan, it’s been a year’s worth of waiting after their season ended disappointingly in the first round of the district playoffs last year. The loss left a sour taste in the Eagles’ mouth because of everything they went through at the end of the season.
A late regular-season game against Avon Grove is what started a downward spiral for Shanahan a year ago. The Eagles won, but they later found out one of the Avon Grove players had tested positive for COVID, forcing them to automatically shut down for 14 days.
This caused them to miss their last three regular season games and by the time districts came around it was still up in the air whether they would have enough players to play their game. At the time, PIAA had rules in place which stated that if teams were shut down, players needed at least 3 practices before they were able to be eligible to play again. Despite having zero COVID cases, virtually Shanahan’s entire roster hadn’t been cleared to play yet because of the rule.
O’Loughlin and Ryan Smith were the only two regular varsity players who were able to play in Shanahan’s playoff game against Rustin. The rest of the players who played were JV players, with the other varsity players sitting and watching helplessly.
“We came out of last year really pissed off and upset, for ourselves and especially for the guys who didn’t have the chance to come back and do this again,” O’Loughlin said. “That’s been a big factor this season, we’ve talked about it a bunch and coach just mentioned it to us in the locker room.”
Shanahan was frustrated with their situation, considering they had a talented team that had the potential to make a run in districts as well as make noise in states. They had just beaten Rustin handily two weeks earlier on their home floor with all of their players available.
Rustin eventually made it to the district championship before falling to Chester in the final, but Shanahan felt they could’ve been there.
“We feel we deserved to at least be in the district championship last year against Chester,” Dougherty said. “We were confident going into Districts last year before we were shut down.”
The past is the past and Shanahan will have to put what happened last year behind them as they prepare for their first state playoff appearance since 2018. That year, Shanahan made it all the way to the district finals before losing to Penncrest. They also won a state playoff game against Hershey before losing to Milton Hershey in the second round.
For coach Dougherty, it’ll be his first taste of state playoff basketball after taking over for Ken Doyle, who coached Shanahan during their last run.
“I’m excited for this group,” Dougherty said. “The coaches all say we want to win, but for the players, they do all the work. They make us look good as coaches, we just put them in the right spots for the most part, but it’s all in them. They play, we don’t do anything.”
Dohmson has experience playing in state playoff games, just not on the hardwood. The senior led Bishop Shanahan to a district championship and a state semi-final appearance on the soccer field this fall. Dohmson knows his team will have to put up more points if they want to make a deep run in states.
“We just need to stay with our defense and focus on our offense and scoring points because we can’t put up 40 points a game and expect to win a state championship.
Shanahan will take on the No. 3 seed from District 12, Bonner-Prendergast in their first-round matchup.
For Upper Moreland, they will be the number four seed from District 1 in the state playoff. The Golden Bears will take on the number two seed out of District 3.
Bishop Shanahan: 8 | 14 | 6 | 15 || 43
Upper Moreland: 12 | 9 | 9 | 10 || 41
Bishop Shanahan: Dohmson 18, O’Loughlin 11, Rodner-Tims 4, Kapczynski 3, Jordan 2, Federio 2, Scaggs 2, D-Addezio 1
Upper Moreland: Hopkins 17, Meakin 9, Tiernan 7, Garofalo 5, Dallahan 2, Campbell 1