TOWAMENCIN >> It took a late rally and four extra minutes, but the North Penn boys basketball kept its perfect Suburban One League Continental Conference record intact Tuesday night.
Visiting Pennridge held a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter, but baskets from Reece Udinski and Ricky Johns forced overtime where Udinski’s three-pointer put the Knights up for good as they held off the Rams 56-50 for their fourth straight victory.
“We told our kids afterwards, we were fortunate to win but the target is on our back now and we’re the team everybody’s going to be gunning for and we’ve not been in that position,” North Penn coach John Conrad said. “So we need to learn how to play as the favorite so to speak.”
David Giuliani scored 19 points, Johns added 14 while Udinski added all 11 of his points after halftime for the Knights (10-3, 5-0 conference), who ended a four-game losing streak to the Rams.
“We’re really just going to take it one game at a time, we’re going to keep getting better defensively and offensively,” Giuliani said. “We’re going to try to mold everybody together, try to get that starting lineup and everything. We just got to keep progressing, keep going one game at a time and bringing the intensity our of the gates like we’ve been doing.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) January 11, 2017
North Penn led 38-33 in the fourth before Jonathan Post collected nine points during an 11-3 run that put Pennridge ahead 44-40.
“I thought our kids played with a ton of energy, they played hard, they played well,” Pennridge coach Dean Behrens said. “I thought when we had it 44-40 and we just scored a bucket, we get one more stop, we’re going to win this game. It’s going to be a foul shooting contest.
Udinski cut the margin down to 44-42, while Johns banked in a short turnaround jumper after a Kwortnik steal to even the contest at 44. Johns grabbed a loose ball on a Rams inbounds to give North Penn the final shot in regulation, but Udinski’s contested three from the top of the arc was off-target.
“I always preach about having those multi-sport athletes I think kids like (Noah) Kwortnik and Ricky Johns and Reece Udinski, they’ve been in the fire before. And I thought it showed tonight,” Conrad said. “They played with a lot of poise down the stretch. I know we got a couple of stops down there at the end of the game.”
North Penn’s first five points in OT came from Udinski, his triple putting the Knights up 49-46. Sean Yoder’s two free throws made it 49-48 but Giuliani got through a double team to score inside to give NP back a three-point edge.
Two Kyle Yoder foul shots had Pennridge back within a point at 1:35. The Rams got a chance to take the lead in the final minute after Kyle Yoder steal but Sean Yoder could not connect on a long two-pointer.
Giuliani proceeded to make it a two-possession game by converting a three-point play off a long inbounds from AJ Catanzaro with 23.8 seconds left.
“I knew they wanted to get the foul before I could put the ball up in the air. Luckily I was able to get it up in time before they had gotten me to foul me,” Giuliani said. And after I made it, it was crazy.”
Post – who sat in the second quarter after picking up two fouls – had 19 points to pace the Rams (6-7, 2-4), who had a two-game win streak snapped. Kyle Yoder chipped in 10 points.
“Jon Post is playing as well as I’ve seen Jon Post play,” Behrens said. “Jon Post’s confidence is through the roof. Jon Post is finishing shots now that maybe he wasn’t finishing a month ago. And that’s the progression that obviously you take as a sophomore.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) January 11, 2017
North Penn, the last unbeaten in SOL Continental play, wraps up the first half of the conference schedule Friday when it visits Central Bucks East at 7 p.m.
“This is a good group of seniors and they feed off of one another,” Conrad said. “And they’re playing for one another.”
Pennridge is back on the court 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Council Rock South in the SOL Challenge at Council Rock North.
The Rams scored the opening five points of the second half to grab a 24-18 lead after a Ryan Cuthbert free throw at 5:34. Ryan Kinky’s three had Pennridge leading 29-23 but Lance Ford hit three while Johns grabbed a rebound and raced down the court for a three-point play to pull NP level at 2:01.
“We kind of let him play in space and tell him to go play and that’s where he’s at his best,” said Conrad of Johns. “I thought he was really good tonight. He was the difference tonight.”
Giuliani jumper put North Penn up 31-29 before Kinky found a cutting Kyle Yoder to tie the contest 31-31 entering the fourth.
A Giuliani basket inside and a Ford triple had the Knights ahead 36-61 with North Penn again holding a five-point advantage after Udinski scored to make it 38-33.
Post proceeded to get going down in the post. The sophomore’s consecutive buckets had the Rams within one while Cuthbert’s breakaway layup off a Sean Yoder steal had the visitors leading 39-38.
Post made it 41-38 before Giuliani stopped the 8-0 run. But Post hit a free throw then used a soft touch to score in the lane for a 44-40 Rams advantage.
“Our kids stuck together, played absolutely with their heart,” Behrens said. “I thought Tyrese Lewis-Eutsey gave us great minutes off the bench.”
Pennridge led 14-10 after the first eight minutes with both teams struggling on offense in the second quarter – the first field goal of the period coming almost six minutes in. A Johns tip-in had the Knights within 19-18 at halftime.
North Penn 56, Pennridge 50 (OT)
Pennridge 14 5 12 13 6 – 50
North Penn 10 8 13 13 12 – 56
Pennridge: Jonathan Post 9 1-4 19; Kyle Yoder 4 2-2 10; Sean Yoder 2 5-6 9; Ryan Kinky 2 0-0 5; Tyrese Lewis-Eutsey 1 1-2 4; Ryan Cuthbert 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 10-16 50.
North Penn: David Giuliani 9 1-2 19; Ricky Johns 4 6-9 14; Reece Udinski 5 0-0 11; Lance Ford 2 0-0 6; Chris Coleman 2 0-0 4; Noah Kwortnik 1 0-0 2 Totals 23 7-9 56.
Three-pointers: P-Kinky, Lewis-Eutsey; NP-Ford 2, Udinski.
Top Photo: North Penn’s Lance Ford goes up for a shot over Pennridge’s Sean Yoder and Ryan Kinky during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)