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District 1 Roundup: Pioneer, Central races too close to call

01/31/2018, 1:45am EST
By Josh Verlin

CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
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The CoBL staff was out at several games around the Delaware Valley on Tuesday evening, but we couldn’t be everywhere. Here’s a roundup of the night’s action featuring several games and conference races worth knowing about as the season hits its final two weeks:

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Pioneer Athletic Conference craziness continues

All year long, the Pioneer Athletic Conference has looked like it would come down to the last few games, and that has come true.

In the Liberty division, Norristown leads the way with a record of 7-2, and Methacton is not far behind at 6-3. Spring-Ford, Owen J. Roberts, and Perkiomen Valley are all 4-5 in the division.

And on Tuesday night, upsets continued to happen. Methacton came out and took down OJR, 65-40, Boyertown (2-7) took down Spring-Ford, and Perk Valley picked up a huge win on Tuesday night, defeating Norristown 47-33.

Dante Graves led the Vikings in scoring with 10 points as a part of a very balanced offensive attack. The real story was Perk Valley’s defense which came out strong from the tip-off, holding Norristown to just three points in the first quarter.

“We really did a nice job of rebounding and defending today,” Perk Valley coach Mike Poysden said. “We’ve had some instances offensively where we’ve struggled to get space or to make shots, but we can always hang our hat on being able to guard.”

In the Frontier, Upper Perkiomen (7-2) solidified its place atop the division with a 70-53 win over Pope John Paul II (4-5) on Tuesday night.

Pottsgrove (5-4) picked up a must-win victory, taking down Phoenixville (5-4), 82-66. Junior guard Manny Clark has been playing the best basketball of his career as of late, and that continued on Tuesday night as the speedster scored 15 points. Senior Jason Hein led the Falcons with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Entering the last three days on conference play before the PAC’s inaugural final-six, only Norristown, Methacton, and Upper Perkiomen have clinched a spot. Owen J. Roberts will visit Spring-Ford on Thursday, in game which will likely send the winner to the final-six. Methacton will take on Perk Valley on Friday, which will be a crucial game for the Vikings.

Pottsgrove and PJP will face off on Saturday afternoon, and a win could potentially help either team reach the final-six. Phoenixville will take on Upper Merion this Thursday, a must-win game if the Phantoms hope to make the final-six.

The final-six includes the top two teams from each division, and then two wildcards teams. The wildcards will be determined based off of division record, head-to-head, divisional ladder, and then league record.

“This will be my eleventh year coaching in the PAC either as an assistant or as a head coach and I don’t ever remember six teams in a division, on any given night, any team is going to win,” Poysden said. “On any given night, the game will come down to one, two, or three possessions. It’s been exciting to play, it’s been exciting to watch.” -- Tyler Sandora

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Chris Arcidiacono (above) and Neshaminy picked up a much-needed road win on Tuesday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Neshaminy downs Pennsbury to get back on track

After losing its previous six contests, Neshaminy got back in the win column after beating its archrival Pennsbury, 62-51, on the road Tuesday night.

Just last Thursday, Pennsbury beat Neshaminy in a snow make-up game 59-57.

“It’s big, we were on a six game losing streak, we played a really tough schedule but we had a couple games slip away like the last Pennsbury game so it was nice to get a win in general.” Neshaminy coach Mark Tingle said.

Neshaminy was led by their senior captains as Chris Arcidiacono finished with 24 points, Anthony Papeo finished with 12 and Charles Dominick finished with 10.

The win improves Neshaminy to 10-8 overall (3-4 SOL) and moves them to 19th in the unofficial District 1 6A standings. If the season ended today, they’d be one of 24 to make the district playoffs.

Up next for Neshaminy is a matchup against Council Rock North (5-10, 3-6 in SOL) on Friday night.

“Coming off of six straight losses, you want to get a win no matter what regardless of what time of the season it is,” Tingle said. “We emphasized that we have to get wins now and make sure we’re cemented in the playoffs.” -- Austin Petolillo

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Jones makes return to Penn Wood

Clyde Jones is plenty familiar with the sidelines at Penn Wood High School. After all, he spent 10 years as the head coach there, after visiting several times while he was at then-league rival Harriton in the mid-00s. But coming back for the first time as a visiting coach since his decade-long run was something different for the Chichester head coach.

“Penn Wood’s special to me, it’s extremely special to me, and when I get there it feels like home for me,” he said. “So it was kind of crazy.”

Jones’ Eagles made sure his return didn’t end on a sour note, as sophomore guard Amiri Stewart delivered the game-winning layup in the closing seconds as Chichester knocked off Penn Wod 60-58. Stewart finished with nine points, complementing a 28-point effort by Chichester senior Da’Quan Granberry.

At 12-6 overall (5-2 Del-Val), Chichester is in good shape for the postseason, as the No. 7 seed in the unofficial District 1 5A rankings; 16 teams qualify for districts. The Eagles will need some help to catch Chester (7-0) for the league title in the six-team conference, which doesn’t have a postseason.

And they might get a boost in the district playoffs -- Chichester senior Michael Davie, a 6-8 forward, has missed the entire season with a knee injury suffered in the summer, but has dressed and warmed up the last two games.

Jones said Davie isn’t quite ready for game action yet, but said he won’t hesitate to use him as soon as he’s able, even if only for a few minutes.

“With him in [just] six minutes, it’s going to make a major difference for us,” Jones said. -- Josh Verlin

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Jack Forrest (above) and Lower Merion knocked off Garnet Valley on the road to create a three-way tie for 3rd in the Central League. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Tight bunch jockeying for Central League positioning

The top two teams in the Central League seem all but locked in; both Lower Merion and Penncrest sit at 11-2 with three games to play, and neither are facing as tough a slate as the three teams below them.

Upper Darby, Garnet Valley and Conestoga are all now 9-4 in league play after Tuesday night, which saw UD take out Haverford 48-34, Lower Merion beat GV 75-68 and Conestoga beat Ridley 44-30.

That’s going to set up quite an interesting final three weeks, as those three teams all play each other for the second time. Conestoga, which beat Lower Merion once this year, gets the Aces again on the road on Friday, and also hosts Upper Darby and Garnet Valley next week. Upper Darby hosts Garnet Valley on Friday, and also plays Ridley (3-10) in its season finale; Garnet Valley hosts Haverford (4-9) in between its trips to UD and ‘Stoga.

Garnet Valley beat Conestoga and Upper Darby already this year; Upper Darby has a win over ‘Stoga in its pocket as well. But if the results flip in the return meetings, it’s all up in the air.

“It’s hard to say [who’s in good shape] at this point,” Upper Darby head coach Bob Miller said. “You start to look at tiebreakers, if Lower Merion wins the league, Stoga’s the only one that beat them...so if we would beat Stoga twice we eliminate them compared to us, but if they beat us and it comes down to that tiebreaker, even though we beat Penncrest...I think the first tiebreaker, Conestoga would beat us on that.” -- Josh Verlin

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Rustin and Great Valley set stage for Ches-Mont American showdown

Both entering the night at 7-1 in the Ches-Mont American, Great Valley and West Chester Rustin each pulled off wins to remain tied atop the division.

Rustin played host to Unionville, who entered the night in third place in the Ches-Mont American.

Sophomore guard Bryce Pew had a big game, getting very close to a triple-double with eight points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. Jake Nelson led Rustin in scoring with 16 points as they got a very impressive 63-35 victory.

The Golden Knights’ played stifling defense, jumping out to a 35-13 halftime lead and never looked back.

“We’ve been really dialed in on the defensive end, it really helps when guys step up, are helping each other, rotating and talking on defense,” Rustin head coach Keith Cochran said. “I think we’ve really gotten better in that situation as the season has progressed.”

As for Great Valley, Liam Ward led the way with 16 points as the Patriots beat Octorara 65-51 to keep hold of the top spot in the Ches-Mont American.

Great Valley is currently in first place despite having the same record as Rustin because of the first time the two teams squared off this season. The Patriots came from behind to take down the Golden Knights 45-44 on Jan. 11.

Next Tuesday, the two will face off once again with the division title most likely hanging in the balance. The programs have certainly had their fair share of good games over the past two years and next week’s game certainly should be another big-time battle between the two programs.

“Great Valley is a great team...the offense they run, they’ll run it and run it and run it and if you’re impatient, they’ll bite you,” Cochran said. “They’re going to be looking forward to beating us on our home floor.” -- Ray Dunne

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Bicentennial Independence contenders pick up wins

The top of the Bicentennial Athletic League’s Independence division will be on the line when Valley Forge Military Academy and Lower Moreland meet up at Valley Forge on Friday night.

Both teams kept their separation from the rest of the pack on Tuesday night. Lower Moreland moved to 11-1 in league play with a 55-34 win against New Hope-Solebury (7-5), which came into the game in fourth place.

Led by 21 points from senior guard Arion Lewis, Valley Forge kept pace with a 66-23 win against Devon Prep. The Trojans are now 10-2 in the league, just one game back of first place.

Valley Forge coach Francis Bowe said his team is starting to put things together as of late.

“You can tell we have a lot more energy about us,” Bowe said.

The division’s third place team, Holy Ghost Prep, beat Church Farm School 29-26 on Tuesday. The Firebirds are 8-4 in the BAL, three games back of first and two games out of second, with four league games left.

Holy Ghost Prep has wins against both Lower Moreland and Valley Forge. The Lions dropped their first league game to Holy Ghost Prep in a 47-46 loss on Jan. 16 and then beat Valley Forge 40-28 six days later.

The Firebirds will pay a close eye to the Valley Forge-Lower Moreland game on Friday night, with a chance to pick up a game on first or second place depending on who wins.

The last time the two teams was Jan. 10 when Lower Moreland won a 67-62 overtime thriller. The Lions erased a 17-point second quarter deficit to send the game into overtime where they pulled out a 67-62 win. Lewis had 31 in that game, while Lower Moreland’s Shane Cohen scored 26 points.

“It’s not the battle for the rematch,” Bowe said. “It’s how have we gotten better since the last time we played them.” -- Owen McCue


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