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Phoenixville’s front line foils Pottsgrove, 67-46

PHOENIXVILLE >> Phoenixville’s front line stood tall again Friday night to help produce another Pioneer Athletic Conference boys basketball victory.

The Phantoms’ multiple big guys inside combined for nine blocked shots, 33 rebounds and 54 points as Phoenixville pulled away from Pottsgrove, 67-46, in a Frontier Division contest at the Phoenixville Area School District gymnasium.

Phoenixville’s Shyheim Abernathy, center, looks to gain possession of the ball while and Pottsgrove’s Nazhir Goldston and Deyon Doctor defend. (Barry Taglieber - For The Mercury)

Phoenixville’s Shyheim Abernathy, center, looks to gain possession of the ball while and Pottsgrove’s Nazhir Goldston and Deyon Doctor defend. (Barry Taglieber – For The Mercury)

Christian Kelly provided a game-high 32 points as well as seven rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists to lead the way for Phoenixville (2-0 PAC-10, 3-1 overall).

Jeff Conboy followed up with a double-double that included 10 points and 10 rebounds as well as two blocks. Matt McLaughlin finished with seven rebounds, three blocks and one field goal for two points. Avery Close turned seven points, six boards and one block. Shyheim Abernathy chipped in with a basket and three rebounds.

Point guard Marquise McDuffee also had another nice outing that included nine assists plus two second-quarter 3-pointers for six points.

“We are going good right now,” said Kelly. “We have to keep it going. Everybody is contributing. Everybody is doing what they are supposed to do.”

The game was locked at 13 after the first period. Phoenixville took control of the game in the second quarter by outscoring the Falcons 23-8 to take a 36-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Pottsgrove (1-1, 3-1) suffered its first setback of the season. But the Falcons did get 12 points from Nick DeCurtis, nine from  Deyon Doctor, eight from Nazhir Goldston, seven from Nik Curnew and six from Louie Gibbs.

“We are practicing hard all the time,” said Kelly. “Coach (Eric Burnett) keeps us out there each time. We want to win the PAC-10 championship.”

Pottsgrove had a 17-16 lead with 6:28 showing in the second period after a layup by Curnew.

But the Phantoms embarked on a 10-0 spurt at that point  to take a 26-17 lead at the 3:02 mark of the second period and a 30-second timeout by the Falcons.

Pottsgrove’s Jayden Blakey (4) dribbled it through the Phoenixville defense Friday. (Barry Taglieber - For The Mercury)

Pottsgrove’s Jayden Blakey (4) dribbled it through the Phoenixville defense Friday. (Barry Taglieber – For The Mercury)

“Our main goal right now is just to win the PAC-10 championship,” said McLaughlin, a transfer from Pope John Paul II who grew up in Phoenixville and is now reunited with his boyhood friends. “We want to make it to the state playoffs and go as far as we can this year.

“It’s great. I love it with the chemistry. We are all friends and we have our chemistry. It works out real well on the court. We keep going hard every single day and practicing hard. Coach (Eric Burnett) keeps pushing us to play defense. We want to play our best defense in the playoffs.”

Abernathy’s layup at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter put the Phantoms in front 18-17. McDuffee followed with a steal and Kelly a block before a Hunter Herschell steal resulted in a foul shot. Conboy finished off a pass from McDuffee. After a Close block, Herschell sank another foul shot, Kelly made a drive and Conboy scored off a move inside to push the Phoenixville lead to 26-17 with 3:02 left in the first half.

“It was an outstanding effort by our team,” said Burnett. “They are locked in right now. They are focused. They are an unselfish group. We are playing 10 guys every night, and they are buying into that. They are playing really hard.”

Phoenixville also got some solid minutes at both ends of the floor from Nasir Green and Phil Meszaros.

“We had a real bad second quarter,” said Pottsgrove coach Scott Palladino. “We dug ourselves too big of a hole. They (Phantoms) played well and they got after us.  We just had a bad second quarter, but we are not going to quit. But you can’t dig yourself an 18-point hole. Then you have to play a perfect second half. We did a very good job to get it down to eight or nine, but we ran out of gas.”

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