Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
With the seconds of Friday’s district quarterfinal winding down, Collin MacAdams caught the ball near half court and turned to see open floor in front of him. He dribbled three times toward the basket then took off in the lane.
Ten days earlier the Central Bucks West senior forward was stuck in bed, dealing with mononucleosis as his teammates lost to Plymouth-Whitemarsh in the Suburban One League title game. He missed the team’s first district game on Tuesday against CB East, and didn’t return to action until practice on Wednesday.
But MacAdams showed no signs of illness or fatigue, rising toward the rim to finish a two-handed slam, before sprinting toward the bench to celebrate with his teammates then half court to find his parents and friends going wild in the stands.
It was the cherry on top of No. 4 seed CB West’s 48-41 home win against No. 5 seed Coatesville in the District 1 Class 6A quarterfinal on Friday night. A win the program had been waiting on for quite some time. A win to send CB West to the Liacouras Center next Tuesday for its first district semifinal game in program history.
“It’s so exciting for this town, this community,” said MacAdams, who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. “We love sports here and we always dreamed of going to Temple. We worked our butts off this offseason and it shows off.”
While doctors told MacAdams he had been playing with mono for the last month and a half to two months, the senior forward felt the symptoms during the night before the SOL championship on Feb. 13. MacAdams had a fever, and when he woke up the next morning, it was even worse.
He spent the day of the championship in his bed. His dad, in attendance for the game, used Facetime to broadcast the game, so MacAdams could watch his teammates play on his phone. Without their star, the Bucks fell to Plymouth Whitemarsh, 62-41.
The California (Pa.) commit spent 10 days stuck in bed, drinking as much water, Gatorade and other fluids as possible and taking the necessary vitamins to get healthy for the district playoffs. CB West went and watched the Owen J. Roberts-CB East game last Friday night, taking out their phones to Facetime MacAdams once again as they scouted their first district opponent.
Even without MacAdams, who was well enough to sit on the bench, but couldn’t play, the Bucks took care of CB East, 64-55.
“It was terrible, but I believed in my teammates,” MacAdams said. “They’re a bunch of great players and I knew they would be fine.”
MacAdams’ first day back on the court was Wednesday. He got as many shots up as he could and did some conditioning. Throughout the week, he continued to hydrate, carrying a jug of water around with him during the school day. When game time arrived on Friday night he was ready to go.
It didn’t take too long for him to make an impact and show the illness wasn’t going to slow him down. He scored the first basket of the game on a putback. MacAdams finished with 12 points in the first half, including a layup off a pass from Jack Mulhearn to beat the halftime buzzer, as CB West led Coatesville 22-18 at the break.
“He’s huge against athletic teams like this,” CB West coach Adam Sherman said. “He keeps us balanced. He’s a guy who can finish and take it to the hole. He was huge for us.”
The Red Raiders had a special talent of their own to get right back in the game after halftime. Sophomore guard Jhamir Brickus, who led Coatesville with eight points in the first half, scored seven straight points for the Red Raiders to start the third quarter and tie the game, 25-25, with 6:08 left in the period.
Both teams took turns with the lead to close out the quarter, but the Bucks held a 34-33 advantage entering the fourth. That didn’t last long as Brickus, who finished with a game-high 23 points, knocked down a deep three 22 seconds into the final period to put Coatesville back up.
MacAdams tied the score on a drive to the hoop with five and a half minutes left in the game and put CB West back on top with a free throw at the 3:44 mark. The player who really swung the game CB West’s direction though was another senior, Jake Reichwein, who didn’t make a field goal through the first 27 minutes of play.
Reichwen drove to the hoop to put the Bucks up three with 2:13 left, then took a charge to get the ball back He knocked down a free throw on the next possession to put his team up by four with 1:11 to go in the game.
Though Coatesville put the pressure on late and a three by Donte’ Crews cut the lead to three with 23.7 seconds left, CB West took care of the ball and made enough free throws to hang on for the historic win.
“That shows the growth of this team,” Sherman said. “Earlier in the year, we didn’t maintain our composure in games like this, and the guys did a great job of playing through mistakes or bad calls. They were really focused and locked in on the next play, which I thought was everything.”
Sherman had teams close to getting to the district semifinals before. This was the team’s third district quarterfinal appearance in the past six years. The Bucks lost to Wissahickon in double overtime in 2012 and fell to PW by one point on a tip-in two years ago, when MacAdams was one of the first guys off the CB West bench.
Friday, they finally got over the hump, setting up a semifinal matchup with the Colonials on Tuesday.
“We’ve been on this doorstep and it’s just a great win for the program, for all the alumni that got stuck on that ledge and couldn’t get over it,” Sherman said. “It’s huge. I’m really, really happy for the kids and the program.”
“Our motivation was to get back here and win this game and we did,” MacAdams added.