ASTON >> The commute from Malvern to Neumann University is about 30 minutes, traffic depending.
Yet Jailen Jamison found himself in range the moment he stepped foot onto the team bus Thursday.
“I was feeling it today,” the Phelps School junior said. “I was letting it go from deep and the shots were falling.”
Sharpshooting Jamison connected for five 3-pointers as part of his game-high 32 points to propel Phelps School’s 63-55 win over Perkiomen School in the Tri-County League championship game inside Neumann University’s Mirenda Gymnasium.
With the win, the Lions (6-2 Tri-County League, 12-16 overall) captured their second consecutive TCL title and their sixth in the past nine seasons. Perk School (8-0, 22-6) fell in first-year head coach Tom Baudinet’s debut championship appearance and the Panthers’ first trip to the title game since winning it in 2014.
Safe to say Jamison and his Lion teammates are already thinking about next year’s postseason.
“Now we’ve got to make it a three-peat,” he said with a laugh while clutching the trophy.
Phelps utilized an eight-point run to claim the lead in the fourth quarter. Jamison had seven points during the run, including a pair of clean trips to the free-throw line to close it out late.
Neville Smith was a late arrival to the 3-point party, knocking down all four of his treys during the second half for 12 points while Chris Palacio paced Phelps early on with 11 first-quarter points en route to 16 for the night. Collectively, Phelps shot 10-for-17 from 3-point land, Jamison knocking a couple down from a few steps beyond the arc as well as a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter.
Aside from the successful night on the offensive end, Lions’ head coach Rich Bell was gleaming about his team’s defensive effort afterward.
“They killed us on the transition during the regular season,” he said of Perk School. “That’s how they beat us. I told our players, if we can limit their transition, we can have success.
“Our guys were hustling back on defense and we limited their transition baskets. That was the difference for us.”
Baudinet was quick to note the transition trend afterward.
“When we can’t get out and run, we struggle to get into any sort of rhythm,” he said. “We’re not great against the zone … we’re not a great shooting team. They were making a lot of shots offensively, and that forced us to slow it down.
“The first two times we played them, we killed them in the transition. It wasn’t at all surprising they went all-zone this game.”
Perkiomen played from behind the entire first quarter before eventually pulling ahead on a Reggie James drive midway through the second to make it 29-27. That sparked Perk as the Panthers took a 37-34 lead into the half.
With Phelps’ big-man Fran Murcia facing foul trouble, the Panthers started to make their home in the paint. Junior forward Nick Guadarrama posted 12 points and seven rebounds while junior guard Chandler Brooks was all over the floor with 16 points.
Atakan Sahinkaya scored 11 and grabbed 14 boards while James finished with a pair of 3-pointers en route to nine points.
Despite having the obvious man advantage — Perk School’s roster lists 14 healthy players while Phelps had just seven — it was the Panthers who looked run down late.
Leading 52-50 with a shade under five minutes left, Phelps was hitting full stride while the Perkiomen offense was stalling. The Panthers turned it over on three consecutive possessions, all of which Phelps capitalized on, kick-started by a deep-ball from Smith to make it 56-52. The Lions then iced it at the free-throw line over the final 90 seconds.
Now both sides begin to look ahead to this weekend’s Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) playoff quarterfinal rounds.
No. 6 seeded Perkiomen will travel to face No. 3 Episcopal Academy on Saturday at 2 p.m. Phelps, seeded No. 8, will head to top-seeded Westtown School at 4 p.m.
“We know what we’re up against there,” said Bell, “but just like we saw in this one, there’s a way to be successful against any team. We’ve got to play good solid defense and anything can happen.”