BENSALEM – Don’t look now but yet another Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference rival has had its way with Pennsbury. This time, it was Bensalem.
Trailing the visiting Falcons, 18-13, after one period, the Owls registered 18, 19 and 20 points, respectively, in the next three quarters to win, 70-59, Thursday night on their home court.
It was Pennsbury’s fifth loss in the last six games, all against league opponents. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that this team started the season by winning seven of its first eight, heading into the Christmas break.
While 6-8 junior Mark Flagg got uncorked against Bensalem – he led all scorers with 23 points – the Falcons had no answer for Richard Dean and Ward Roberts. Dean scored 12 of his 22 points in the first half; Roberts registered 15 of his 22 after the intermission.
After starting out at 4-0 in the league, Pennsbury has fallen to 6-4, three games behind first-place Abington and a game behind second-place Council Rock North, which surged ahead with Thursday night’s win over Truman.
“We were a much different team in the beginning of the year and we just have to play through it,” stated Falcons head coach Bill Coleman.
“We have to fight our way through this thing. It’s that simple – fight our way through it and everything will work out.”
Maybe it’s the curse of Jerry Devine. The Neshaminy coach hasn’t been allowed back on the court since Pennsbury defeated the Redskins 49-42 on Jan. 5 for the Falcons’ ninth win of the season. Since then, however, Pennsbury (10-7, 6-4 SOL) has emerged with a victory just once – a 70-34 win over last-place William Tennent (2-8).
“We’ve tried to shake things up a little – do different things here and there in practice,” added Coleman. “It really comes down to playing with effort on a consistent basis – everybody.”
“If you play with effort, that loose ball that might have gotten away when things were going bad, you’re going to grab that loose ball.
“That rebound that we’ve been missing in this streak, that’s our rebound.
“That one little extra push that we’re not getting right now comes with effort.”
The Falcons sure looked like they came out trying in this one. After falling behind 9-5 in the opening minutes, Pennsbury closed the quarter out with a 13-4 scoring spurt that put the visitors on top, 18-13, heading into the second period.
Senior Rob Daly (9 pts.) hit a 3-pointer at the midway point, then found Flagg in the lane for an easy layup. Flagg then fed 6-8 junior forward Isaiah Carpenter (10 pts) in the lane for an easy basket then Carpenter finished the first quarter off with a putback.
Bensalem (9-7, 5-5 SOL) began the second period however, with a 5-0 run, sparked by a driving layup by Brandon Vaughn (9 pts.) and a 3-pointer by Rich Dean that tied things up at 18 apiece a minute into the quarter. After that, the sides traded blows with the Owls finishing the stanza off with a 5-2 run that gave the home team a 31-18 edge going into the locker room.
It was after the intermission that things started to unravel for Pennsbury. Bensalem had found its shooting touch in the second period with Vaughn and Roberts each hitting a pair of field goals before the break. But it was Dean who led the Owls, hitting three shots from the floor including a pair from 3-point range.
“He’s a quiet kid and you look at the boxscore and you think, ‘wow, how did he score that many?’ stated Bensalem head coach Mike McCabe. “He’s not flashy or anything; he’s just a solid player who gets it done, night in and night out.”
It all starts with the Owls’ defense, said McCabe.
“We knew we had to lock it down defensively,” explained the coach. “We knew if we were going to have any chance, we had to defend.
“They hurt us on the glass a few times tonight but when push came to shove, I thought we locked it down on defense and we made some big shots.”
That, Bensalem did.
After hitting eight shots from the floor in the second period and outscoring the Falcons 18-10 in the stanza, the Owls struck for six more field goals in the third quarter, three of which came from behind the 3-point line.
“There was some over-pursuit on some of their drives,” said Coleman. “We didn’t close out properly.”
Like it did in the second quarter, Bensalem opened the third period with a 5-0 run on a 3-ball from Roberts and a layup by Dean. In between, Carpenter was stripped of a rebound, one of several caroms he couldn’t hold onto in the second half.
Daly hit his second 3-pointer in the game to cut the deficit back to seven points but Johni Dumeny sank a 1-handed hook shot and a putback off a feed from Dean to extend the Owls’ lead to 10 points. In between Dumeny’s two baskets, Flagg was whistled for goaltending and Carpenter lost the handle on another rebound.
All told, Pennsbury turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter. By the end of the period, the Falcons trailed, 50-39, heading into the final frame.
“They were all live-ball turnovers and that’s how they extended their lead and that’s never good,” stated Coleman.
“We just have to get stops and that’s what it comes down to.”
In the fourth quarter, Pennsbury got off to a 10-6 scoring run, a spurt in which eight of those points came off the hand of Flagg. No one else seemed to be able to get the ball through the rim for the Falcons however, except for Daly, who scored seven of his team’s 11 points in the third quarter.
When Rob fouled out with 2:44 remaining in regulation, you just knew it was over for the visitors. While Pennsbury junior Addison Howard hit a pair of 3-point plays in the closing moments to keep the Falcons within striking distance, Bensalem could have had the game tucked away already, had they made a few more foul shots in the fourth quarter.
The Owls missed eight free throws in the final frame and shot just 17-of-33 from the charity stripe.
After the game, McCabe joked about his team’s inefficiency on free throws.
“The funny thing about that is we worked on foul-shooting all week,” quipped McCabe.
“Our outside shooting was good but we couldn’t buy one from the (foul) line, it seemed.”
That’s the way it goes when your team is on a hot streak, which Bensalem is. After starting their league season with just two wins in seven SOL contests, the Owls have won their last three league games including a 70-63 grudge win over CR South Jan. 19 on the Hawks’ home court.
Ironically, it was South which pasted the first league loss – a 66-65 defeated suffered in overtime – on Bensalem back in the middle of December, though now, that looks like such a distant memory.
It would seem these two squads are experiencing mirror images of one another’s season with the Owls getting the better end of the deal and the Falcons experiencing the down side.
Contact the author at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com, or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Bensalem 70, Pennsbury 59
(Jan. 21 at Bensalem)
Pennsbury 18 10 11 20 – 59
Bensalem 13 18 19 20 – 70
PENNSBURY — Raylil Winton-Law 0 2-2 2, Addison Howard 3 1-1 8, Vaughn Ward 1 0-0 3, Tyler Sessa-Reeves 0 2-3 2, Isaiah Carpenter 4 2-2 10, Mark Flagg 7 8-12 23, Rob Daly 3 2-2 10, Joey Monaghan 0 1-2 1; TOTALS — 18 18-24 59.
BENSALEM — Brandon Vaughn 3 3-9 9, Richard Dean 7 6-8 22, Anthony Greene 2 0-2 4, Ward Roberts 6 6-6 22, Johnni Dumeny 4 1-3 9, Taco Douglas 1 1-5 4; TOTALS — 23 17-33 70.
3-POINT GOALS: P — Daly 2, Flagg, Ward, Howard; B — Roberts 4, Dean 2, Douglas.
|01/21/2016||7:00 pm||Suburban One||2015|