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District 1 6A: Matos, No. 6 Methacton win back-and-forth duel with No. 11 CB West

02/20/2024, 11:00pm EST
By Dan Arkans

Dan Arkans (@danarkans)

EAGLEVILLE – The postseason has not been kind to the Methacton boys basketball team the past two seasons.

The Warriors have lost on last-second shots the last two years in the PAC playoffs. With a loss to Garnet Valley in overtime of the District 1 Class 6A second-round added last year, the playoffs have been more like a horror movie for the Warriors.

Methacton's Emmanuel Rodriguez. (Photo: Dan Arkans/CoBL)

Methacton was in the second round once again of the District 1 Class 6A Tournament on Tuesday night and had a bad taste of deja vu.

The sixth-seeded Warriors saw a 12-point lead disappear to 11th-seeded CB West and things were spiraling out of control with the Bucks leading 35-30 late in the third quarter. 

That’s when super soph Christian Matos decided to take things over, going on his own personal 11-point fourth-quarter run en route to a team-high 19 points as the Warriors ended those playoff nightmares with a 54-51 win over the Bucks before a raucous crowd at Methacton High School. The win propels the Warriors into a quarterfinal matchup with No. 14 Garnet Valley on Friday and a spot in the PIAA Tournament.

“We talked about how we’ve been in this moment before, we’ve been in the second round before,” Matos said. “We just had to execute and get the win. In the first half I just missed a multitude of 3’s. My coach told me to keep shooting. That’s what I did. I am always going to keep shooting. Down the stretch I just caught fire.”

The Warriors (17-7) did look to have a quick knockout with that 20-8 lead in the second quarter. Then, CB West’s Julien Phillips (22 points) started cooking with eight second-quarter points as the game was tied 25-25 at halftime.

Suddenly, it was a ballgame again and perhaps some bad memories brought up in the locker room.

“It felt all too familiar there for a minute in the fourth quarter,” Methacton coach Pat Lockard said. “Thankfully they missed a shot or two that helped us be able to secure those rebounds, which was a big thing all night. We are excited and hopefully continue this good momentum on Friday.”

Methacton's Christian Matos. (Photo: Dan Arkans/CoBL)

Phillips did not slow down in the second half, hitting a pair of 3-pointers as the Bucks did take that 35-30 lead. Sal Iemmello (10 points) and Matos answered with 3-pointers of their own and Methacton was up 38-35 entering the fourth quarter.

“I was thinking I don’t want us to go to the playback round,” Matos said. “I want us to get to Temple, to get to the finals. I just want us to keep going. I feel like we have a team to possibly win it all.”

It turns out the playoff drama was really just beginning. Manny Rodriguez picked up Phillips man-to-man in the fourth and the space closed down for the CB West sharpshooter. However, Matt Engle (15 points) picked up the slack with a pair of 3-pointers and after Phillips’ only bucket of the fourth quarter, West led 48-44 with 4:03 to play.

Matos caught fire himself, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and scoring off an inbounds play as the Warriors took the lead back 49-48 with 2:56 to go. Roman Kulesa had the answer for West to put them back up 50-49, but Matos had one more shot left in him.

The soph took a pass from Alex Hermann (10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and let his fifth 3-pointer fly from the Methacton logo, easily NBA range for a 52-50 lead with 1:20 to go.

“I hit the previous two or three before, why not let this one fly? It feels good, but at the end of the day it’s a team game,” Matos said. “Without my teammates giving me the ball or without a pass from Alex Hermann I don’t make that shot.” 

Phillips attempted the response but misfired on a 3-pointer and Rodriguez came up with the loose ball as Methacton worked its way to a 54-51 lead on some free throws. West had one more chance, but Kuleso missed the net on another 3-pointer.

“He is a great shooter,” Rodriguez said of Phillips. “I had to make sure he didn’t get any clear looks. The rest was just me playing defense like I know how to play defense. I stopped him when we needed it. I had to  close out hard, contest as best as I could. It was just realizing he was a shooter and being able to navigate it.”

Methacton still couldn’t ice the game away at the free-throw line and Sam Jankowski had one more look at a prayer from close to full court that looked on line before rimming out.

“I think I got grayer,” Lockard said. “We didn’t shoot our free throws well, but did enough. I was praying to get that miss.” 

Finally, the Warriors took a deep breath and were pleased to be headed back to states.

“It was not a different script from the Perk Valley loss,” Lockard said. “It had very similar vibes. To the guys credit they executed on what we were trying to work on. We took care of the basketball. When we take care of the basketball and make some shots it’s a lot more fun to coach.”


By Quarter
CB West 8-17-10-16-51
Methacton 15-10-13-16-54

CB West: Engle 15; Gugger 6; Phillips 22; Kulesa 4; Jankowski 2; Gallagher 2.

Methacton: Daddezio 5; Conrad 2; Matos 19; Iemmello 10; Hermann 10; Rodriguez 6; Robinson 2.

District 1 6A Boys

Second Round (Tue., Feb. 20)
1) Lower Merion 55, 16) Conestoga 49
24) Springfield (Delco.) 46, 8) Bensalem 42
4) Chester 59, 13) Plymouth Whitemarsh 54
5) Coatesville 77, 12) Cheltenham 60
2) West Chester Henderson 67, 15) Downingtown West 66
7) CB East 49, 10) Perkiomen Valley 44
14) Garnet Valley 63, 3) Spring-Ford 49
6) Methacton 54, 11) Central Bucks West 51

Quarterfinals (Fri., Feb. 23)
1) Lower Merion vs. 24) Springfield (Delco.)
4) Chester vs. 5) Coatesville
2) West Chester Henderson vs. 7) CB East
6) Methacton vs. 14) Garnet Valley

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