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PIAA Class 2A: Constitution counting on role players to step up in states run

03/13/2022, 11:15pm EDT
By Corky Blake

Corky Blake (@corkyblake)

This time last year when Constitution was making its run to the PIAA Class 2A state final, Simere Blagman was playing rec league basketball. 

“I broke my knee in ninth grade and didn’t play [for Constitution] in 10th and 11th grades,” Blagman said. “I played some in a rec league.”

Lamar Glover (above) had 22 points in Constitution's win on Sunday. (Photo: Ty Daubert/CoBL)

The Generals know what they’re getting from their stars – senior point guard Lamar Glover and all-state swingman Jacob Beccles, who combined for 50 points in Sunday’s Class 2A second-round 60-46 win over District 11 champion Shenandoah Valley at Freedom High School.

How much the District 12 champions receive from their complementary players, such as Blagman, who ruled the boards with 12 rebounds, will determine whether the Generals can get back to Hershey later this month.

They’ll take the next step in the quarterfinals Wednesday against District 2 titleist Holy Cross, a 55-39 victor over District 1 champion Church Farm in an earlier game at Freedom.

Blagman was somewhat of an unknown to the Constitution program.

“This is his first year of varsity, heck, it’s his first year of organized basketball,” Constitution coach Rob Moore said. “He’s about 5-11, 130 pounds, but he’s very springy.

“We lost two guys we were counting on from last year, one to [Father] Judge and one to Bonner. I can’t say at the beginning of the season I knew (Blagman) would have a huge role for us, but he’s averaging 10 rebounds a game for us.”

Blagman never forgets why Moore has him in the lineup even if he’s short on experience.

“He told me to hustle and play hard when I’m on the court,” said Blagman, who also contributed four points.

“It means a lot to see him (Blagman) play like that because he has the same goal as me,” Beccles said. “Winning (a state title) means a lot to all of us.”

Constitution (20-8) never trailed and established a 14-9 first-quarter lead behind Glover’s seven points.

Beccles asserted himself in the second quarter with 10 of his game-high 28 points to put the Generals ahead by double figures. The Blue Devils, who won their first title since 1977, fought to within 28-21 at intermission.

“We watched nine of their games and we knew they could shoot,” Moore said. 

Moreover, Moore was impressed with how the Blue Devils (23-5) regrouped after one of their top players, 6-4, 225-pound Villanova baseball recruit Luke Matta went down with an ACL tear last month. 

“We thought we’d see a different team when No. 14 (Matta) went down, and then No. 35 (Bryan Rivera) steps in for them,” Moore said.

The 6-4 Rivera stepped out beyond the arc to drill a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points to compensate for the Generals putting the clamps on leading scorer Owen Kosar, who was held to four. Kosar scored 28 in Shenandoah’s 56-52 opening-round win over Muncy.

“When we play in state games, it’s often hard for the other teams to synthesize what we do in their practice,” said Moore of the Generals’ speed and athleticism.

“We expected them to make shots, but we had to make sure they didn’t go on a big run,” Glover said. 

Constitution never led by less than eight or more than 13 (until the final score) throughout the second half. When the Generals needed a basket, Glover and Beccles delivered. Glover (22 points) maneuvered to wherever he wanted against the Blue Devils’ defense.

“I look at him like he’s our little Kyle Lowry,” Moore said. “This is his second year as a starter. Last year we had Quadir Miller so he shared some of the point guard duties with him.”

“I just want to make sure we play as a team on defense and get good shots on offense,” said Glover, who’s been drawing Division II interest.

While his players seemed to be comfortable playing with an 8-to-12-point lead in the second half, Moore was anything but that.

“It wasn’t comfortable to me,” Moore said with a laugh. “Maybe if the fans were even instead of like 150 to 5 in their favor I would’ve felt better.”

In the end, Constitution’s methodical victory was the great silencer, and the Generals get to play another game – possibly back at Freedom -- and maybe two more after that.

By Quarter
Shenandoah Valley:    9   |  12  |  12  |  13  ||  46
Constitution:              14  |  14  |  15  |  17  ||  60

Shenandoah: 19 1-5 46
Constitution: 22 14-20  60

3-pointers: Rivera 3, Mikita 3, K. Maksimik; Glover, Beccles.

Shenandoah Valley: Bryan Rivera 13, Nick Mikita 12, Matt Alvarez 10, Kaleb Maksimik 7, Owen Kosar 4.

Constitution: Jacob Beccles 28, Lamar Glover 22, Jamal Carr 6, Simere Blagman 4. 

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