TOWAMENCIN >> Once the rust was scraped off, North Penn’s engine ran just fine, the Knights getting contributions from many in a satisfying 55-45 victory over Hatboro-Horsham Tuesday night in the second round of the District 1-6A Playoffs.
“We hadn’t played a game in a week and a half,” North Penn’s David Giuliani said of the Knights, who came off a bye, “so we really just had to get back into the swing of things and get back our momentum. Once we did that, our defense locked down and we just kept going, got easy buckets off of it.”
The win sends fifth-seeded North Penn (19-5) to No. 4 Coatesville Friday night, with a state spot all locked up for the Knights.
After four lead changes in the opening moments of the third quarter, Giuliani helped push North Penn on its way in front of a capacity crowd at NP. Giuliani’s layup extended the Knights’ lead to 30-27, and then a three by Chris Coleman, another bucket by Coleman set up Giuliani, and a steal by Ricky Johns that led to a quick basket by Lance Ford inflated the margin to 10.
“That’s been our story all year,” North Penn coach John Conrad said of the balanced effort. “I thought Derek Heiserman was great off the bench, A.J. Mitchell did a really nice job off the bench, and our big three played really well tonight.
“They’re our meat-and-potatoes guys and they stepped up.”
The timely, game-clinching threes of Reece Udinski (12 pts) put it away for North Penn, the second of which gave NP a 46-36 lead heading deep into the fourth.
“Feels good to win the first playoff game,” said Giuliani, who had a team-high 13 points.
Hatboro-Horsham played a strong first quarter, the inside play of Clifton Moore providing the edge.
Moore hit an early three then battled underneath to draw a pair of fouls, hitting all four of his free throws in the opening eight points.
A rebound and score by Moore (10 pts) helped give the visitors a 13-7 lead after one, with the run eventually extending to 9-0 and a 16-7 advantage early in the second.
That is where North Penn began to turn it around.
A rumbling, coast-to-coast layup by Giuliani ended the Hatter run, and then the Knights put together a 7-0 stretch of their own until Ryan Black of Hatboro connected for three, making it 19-14 Hatters midway through the second.
A three by Ford drew North Penn closer and the Knights soon took their first lead of the evening when Giuliani converted on a three-point play, making it 20-19 North Penn.
The Knights stayed on top the rest of the first half, with Heiserman finding an open Giuliani cutting to the basket, extending the lead to 24-20.
A basket by Hatboro’s Jay Davis made it a two-point game — and then after a defensive stop — a last-second shot by the Hatters’ Chris Edwards banged in and out at the buzzer, leaving it 24-22 Knights at the break.
“(After the first quarter), it was just complete reversal,” said Hatters coach Ed Enoch, whose team still has a shot at states, entering playbacks. “We kind of went all individual and it all just disintegrated. Give (North Penn) credit. They turned their game around, put the pressure on us, and we didn’t handle it.”
Top Photo: Hatboro-Horsham’s Jay Davis goes for a shot between as Chris Coleman tries to block it during their District 1-6A second round game on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)