Anthony Dabbundo (@AnthonyDabbundo)
Chucky Drummond may not start for Spring-Ford.
But when the 6-foot-2 senior guard steps onto the court, all eyes are on him.
With his offensive scoring talent, his ability to score inside and out, and the ease with which he puts the ball through the hoop, it’s hard not to be drawn to the Rams’ bench threat.
When Rams’ head coach Chris Talley called his name off the bench Friday, in a huge Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinal vs Upper Merion, Drummond answered the call.
Thanks to 24 points from the Rams’ most talented scorer, Spring-Ford defeated Upper Merion 57-46, clinching their third appearance in the PAC championship in Talley’s four seasons.
Once his first shot fell, a 3-pointer early in the first quarter, Drummond knew it was going to be a special night.
Then he hit his second.
And his third.
After that, there was no stopping Drummond.
“Hitting my first shot gives me the confidence to keep shooting,” Drummond said. “Once I hit the second one, I just kept shooting.”
Despite spending all of his junior season in the starting lineup, providing an auxiliary scoring option to graduated seniors Matt Gnias and Nigel Cooke, Drummond has spent most of this season coming off the bench.
“He’s our spark,” Talley said. “When he gets one or two shots to fall, his confidence goes through the roof and he played a heck of a game tonight.”
While many people may wonder why the Rams’ most talented scorer isn’t in the starting lineup, Talley’s move seems to be paying dividends.
“It’s working out really well right now,” Drummond said. “I‘ll do whatever I can to help the team no matter what position I’m in.”
After committing to play basketball next year at Penn State-Altoona, and accepting his role as the Rams’ first man off the bench, Drummond has thrived.
In the Rams’ last seven games, the talented senior has averaged 18 points per game, including three games with over 20 points. In 6 of those last 7, Drummond has been the team’s leading scorer.
Friday, it didn’t take long for him to step in and make an immediate impact.
He scored 6 points in the first quarter, where Spring-Ford hit the ground running with an 18-0 run. The Rams led 18-2 after one quarter, and never really looked back.
He finished the game shooting 7-of-13 from the field and a red hot 5-of-7 from beyond the three point arc.
For the Rams, it was an uncharastically fast start. Spring-Ford found itself down early to Perk Valley, Pope John Paul, and Boyertown all within the last four games, so coming out early was a huge priority for Talley and his team.
Despite an excellent performance from Vikings’ forward Matt Faw, who scored 18 points in his second game back from injury, the Vikings were never able to get within five in the second half. Every time the Vikings tried to trim down the Rams lead, someone from Spring-Ford, whether it was Drummond, or junior center Austin Hokanson, stepped up to make a play.
The 6-foot-4 Hokanson finished with a double-double 16 points and 10 rebounds, on a night where he was matched up with Faw and 6-foot-6 forward Ethan Miller on the inside.
“I don’t know if they were nervous or not but we came out and wanted to set the tone,” Talley said. “The first time we played them they dictated the pace, and we wanted the game to be in the 60s.”
In the previous meeting, the Rams won 46-43 on their home court back on January 10th.
After shooting 1-for-12 in the opening quarter with five turnovers, it was clear that the Vikings let the nerves of their first final four get to them. Joining the league this season, the Final Four Friday night was a new experience for them.
The Rams had been there before.
In Talley’s first season as coach, the Rams went undefeated in league play, and won the league title. Then last season, Spring-Ford found themselves back in the final four, beating Pope John Paul II and eventually Perk Valley for the league title in dramatic fashion.
Now, the Rams find themselves back in the championship.
Against none other than Perk Valley.
“We need two really good practices,” Talley said. “I thought our practices really turned up before the Owen J. [Roberts] game (last Thursday), and I’m expecting a couple good practices for Tuesday.”
Despite two losses to the Vikings both home and away this year, the Rams are hoping that the third time's the charm.
“That’s what everyone in our locker room expected, this is what we wanted, and now it’s there in front of us, we just have to execute,” Talley said.
“Hopefully we can get this title again,” Drummond said. “We need to stay focused and play our game and not worry about them.”
For a rivalry that has meant so much to both teams and schools over the past two years in both football and basketball, there’s a lot riding on Tuesday night’s championship at Norristown.
When asked about what Tuesday night means, Drummond said:
“It’s PV-Spring-Ford, that’s all you can ask for.”