Noah Baker (above, last season) and Spring-Ford shut down Central Bucks West in their season opener on Friday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Tyler Sandora (@tyler_sandora)
With starting center Austin Hokanson not at full strength opener against Central Bucks West due to a lower body injury he suffered in the summer, the rest of the players on Spring-Ford’s roster knew they would need to step up their game on the defensive end.
Luckily, it was against a Central Bucks West squad the Rams certainly were familiar with.
Spring-Ford has opened against the Bucks for the past six years, as part of the Pioneer Athletic Conference/Suburban One Challenge.
“We kind of know their style of play from playing them over the years,” Spring-Ford head coach Chris Talley said. “We didn’t want them to come in running their sets which they do as well as anyone. We wanted to switch it up and get them uncomfortable.”
The key to shutting down the Bucks scoring attack was slowing down star Collin MacAdams. One of the premier scoring threats in the area, MacAdams can fill it up in a hurry when he gets on a roll.
“We wanted MacAdams under 10,” Talley said. “That was our goal.”
Noah Baker was given the task of shutting down C.B. West’s star wing. And the Spring-Ford junior played his role to perfection, limiting MacAdams to just five points as Spring-Ford took home an impressive 50-30 win.
Baker added 16 points of his own, 10 of which came in the first half. A matchup nightmare, Baker did most of his scoring in the paint, spinning around defenders and laying the ball in the hoop. But it was Baker’s defensive performance that helped spark the Rams’ win.
“Noah Baker did an unbelievable job on [MacAdams],” Talley said. “Our team defense, everybody was pinching in what direction MacAdams was in, but Baker wanted that challenge, and he played well.”
“[MacAdams] is a strong and competitive dude, so when he gets in the lane, he can get a bucket,” Baker said. “I let him shoot it outside.”
Baker wasn’t the only one who had a good night defensively. C.B. West’s secondary scoring threat, Shane McCusker, was held scoreless. Spring-Ford’s senior guard Nestor Diaz kept the 6-2 senior guard in check for a majority of the matchup.
“I had McCusker, and I pretty much didn’t let him get the ball,” Diaz said. “Baker had MacAdams, we all helped and forced him to get tough two’s. They couldn't make those shots tonight.”
The Bucks were held to just 30 points overall, and just five points in second quarter. The Rams forced 13 turnovers, and were shutting down any open opportunities the Bucks had to score.
Besides Hokanson, who came off of the bench, Spring-Ford’s only real inside presence was 6-foot-4 junior Robert Bobeck.
“I realized that when Austin was injured, his recovery has been slow, so at some point I knew I’d be stepping up for this team,” Bobeck said. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity. “When you’re the biggest guy on the court you feel like you need to get offensive and defensive rebounds.”
Bobeck saw some minutes last year off the bench as a sophomore, but spent most of the time in Hokanson’s shadow. His contributions on the defensive end made the difference for Spring-Ford on Friday night. Whether it was deflecting passes in the paint or altering opponent’s shots, Bobeck was exactly what the Rams needed.
“He’s a rock out there,” Talley said on Bobeck. “I couldn’t be happier because he’s such a good kid and he works and works. He takes a pounding by going against [Hokanson] in practice. Those two have just made each other better.”
On the offensive end, Diaz led the Rams with 18 points. The 5-11 senior played the role on floor general, setting up the offense in front of a loud C.B. West student section. A bunch of Diaz’s points came at the right time, giving the Rams momentum just when they needed it most.
In the third quarter, the Rams put up 13 points, but Baker didn’t score any of them. The idea of even scoring among the team is something the Spring-Ford coaching staff loves to see.
“This team is unselfish,” Talley said. They don’t care who gets the limelight. We tell them all the time we want our box scores looking like 12, 12, 10, 8 and we don’t care how we do it, as long as we get this win.”
With an opening night win against perhaps the best opponent Spring-Ford will face for a while, the Rams now know they have what it takes to take down one of the best teams in all of District 1 -- even if they don’t have their starting center at full health.
“My confidence is really high,” Baker said. “This was a big challenge, so it boosted our confidence pretty good.”
In the first game of the double header at C.B. West on Friday night, Central Bucks South defeated Pottstown, 62-45.
Senior guard Nate Robinson led the Titans attack, scoring 19 points, and hitting three 3’s. Tommy Kuypers, a 6-2 junior, dropped 13 points and brought down eight rebounds.
The Titans sat in a zone for the majority of the game, forcing the Trojans to shoot from outside. Big men Jack Johns and Ian McCaw played big roles in not allowing Pottstown to get anything going in the paint.
For Pottstown, junior point guard Floyd Dashiell, the lone returning starter from last years squad, hit four 3’s en route to his 19 points. Coventry Christian transfer Anthony Brown contributed 15 points; the quick guard did a lot of scoring by getting down the floor and beating the defense.
The PAC/SOL challenge will continue on Saturday afternoon at Spring-Ford High School.
Pottstown will take on C.B. West at 5:30, followed by a Spring-Ford-C.B. South matchup at 7:00.
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