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Upper Dublin boys beat Abington, close in on SOL Liberty title

01/31/2024, 1:00am EST
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

FORT WASHINGTON — Derek Brooks had an idea coming into this season that he had a squad ready to outpace a strong 2022-23 group.

The Upper Dublin coach’s first group won 18 games but fell short in league and districts, failing to qualify for states, a bitter end to a strong year. 

“In the summer, when we had our starting lineup or like most of our varsity guys, I think we were 22-3,” Brooks said. “So we were like, alright, we might not be that good, but that’s saying we should be pretty solid.”

Brady Fogle (above) and Upper Dublin are two wins from their first outright division title in 22 years. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

As it turns out, Upper Dublin might be that good. 

A 61-58 win over Abington on Tuesday night moved the Cardinals to 16-3 overall this season, 12-1 in Suburban One League play. They have a two-game lead on the SOL Liberty with three games to play, oh-so-close to their first outright conference title in 22 years.

Upper Dublin split the Liberty with Plymouth Whitemarsh two years ago. Beat the perennial league favorite Colonials (13-7, 11-3) Tuesday night — or take care of business against Lower Moreland and Hatboro-Horsham on Saturday and Tuesday — and they won’t have to share this time around.

“If we go 2-1 down the stretch, we’re the champs,” Brooks said. “We thought we had a chance this year, but to actually have this type of lead at the end of the year is unbelieavable.”

“This is an amazing start to the year, and hopefully it continues like this,” senior wing Brady Fogle said after a 20-point night. “Couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Perhaps even more importantly, the Cardinals’ win helped further ensure they will end up with one of the top four spots in the District 1 5A rankings. Currently second, just behind Unionville and ahead of Radnor, that trio is well clear of fourth-place Phoenixville, though the rankings are all unofficial until the district meetings on Feb. 11. 

The top four seeds in District 1 5A get a bye to the second round of the playoffs, where even the losers have a chance to win a couple playback games to get into the state tournament. Losing in the first round is a season-ender; Upper Dublin found that out the hard way against No. 12 seed West Chester Rustin last year. 

“We know we just missed out on a top-four seed last year,” Fogle said, “and ended up losing in the first round. We really wanted to get that first-round bye, that’s been a goal for us all offseason and all season, that’s a goal that we had.”

Senior night at Upper Dublin saw all three of the Cardinals’ impending high school graduates make significant contributions. 

Fogle, a 6-foot-4 sharpshooter, was 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the first half, helping his team open up a 37-23 lead at the break. Guard Chris Kohlbrenner, who will be a 12-letter-winner in his Upper Dublin career (football, basketball and lacrosse) before beginning his collegiate football career, added 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Anthony Oliviera-Schultze, in the lineup for the first time in his career but always in the rotation, finished with five points and four rebounds, plus a steal and a block.

“He was awesome, in his first career start tonight,” Brooks said of the 6-3 forward. “He was great — rebounding, finishing around the rim, toughness, that’s what he can provide.”

Abington cut into Upper Dublin’s lead in the third quarter somewhat, closing the gap to nine entering the fourth, even though the Ghosts (14-5, 9-4) didn’t take advantage of several opportunities in the period, going 1-7 from the line in the quarter. A couple early fourth-quarter 3-pointers got the Cardinal lead down to as low as four, but a clutch triple from Fogle helped them pull back ahead. 

The senior also knocked down a pair of foul shots on a night where Upper Dublin went 12-of-20 from the line in the fourth quarter, allowing Abington to make it closer at the end than it should have been after they led by nine with two minutes remaining.

“I’ve only been here two years but he has been an absolute pillar of the program since we took over,” Brooks said. “He’s a man of few words but when he speaks, people listen. He leads by example, he’s never afraid of a moment, he’s never afraid to take big shots, he’s a hard worker. We’re going to miss him greatly.”

Ryan Mulroy (above) added 17 points and eight rebounds for Upper Dublin. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Junior wing Ryan Mulroy added 17 points and eight rebounds (four offensive) for Upper Dublin, while sophomore point guard Kobe Bazemore dished out five assists. 

Abington got 13 points from senior guard Jeremiah Lee, 12 from junior Paul Glants and 11 from senior Aaron Jones. The Ghosts, currently No. 10 in the unofficial district rankings, close with Wissahickon and New Hope at home before the season finale at Quakertown next Tuesday.

The Upper Dublin boys aren’t the only Cardinals in the midst of an outstanding season. The Cardinal girls improved to 18-1 (13-0) on Tuesday night with their own win over Abington, and are similarly in line for a first-round district bye and are eyeing up a potential state berth. 

In all of District 1, only Perkiomen Valley has more combined basketball wins, with 38; PV’s boys and girls have four combined losses, just like Upper Dublin’s. 

“I think just this past week we really started to think about like, hey, we might each host one or two SOL games, we might host multiple district games — on the same night, too — and states,” Brooks said. “It’s going to be like a party every night here. 

“The fact that we get to do it together, I’m hoping we can keep up with them, they’re freaking unbelievable, it’s great, it’s exciting.”

By Quarter
Abington:         11  |  12  |  14  |  21  ||  58
Upper Dublin:  20  |  17  |   9   |  15  ||  61

Abington: 25-50 FG (7-19 3PT), 1-7 FT
Upper Dublin: 19-51 FG (6-18 3PT), 17-26 FT

Abington: Jeremiah Lee 13, Paul Glants 12, Aaron Jones 11, Jayden Flournoy 8, Lathan Miller 6, Kellen Ingram 4, Jacob Manigault 2, Kamari Brashear 2

Upper Dublin: Brady Fogle 20, Ryan Mulroy 17, Chris Kohlbrenner 10, Anthony Oliviera-Schultz 5, Idris Rines 5, Kobe Bazemore 2, Brandon Altman 2

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