DOWNINGTOWN >> For the first time in 22 years, Bishop Shanahan is headed to the state playoffs.
The high-flying Eagles took care of that in impressive fashion Saturday afternoon, with a nearly flawless 32-minute showing to beat Ches-Mont foe West Chester Rustin, 54-39, in the quarterfinals of the District 1 Class 5A playoffs.
By reaching the final four, Shanahan locked up one of the district’s seven state berths, and now heads to Temple University’s Liacouras Center Wednesday to face either Chester or Upper Merion in the semifinals (7:30 p.m.).
The Eagles (20-6) jumped right on the Golden Knights from the outset as they played hard-nosed basketball at both ends of the floor, and absolutely dominated the Golden Knights on the boards. Seven Eagles players scored on the day as the Eagles jumped out to a commanding 33-19 halftime advantage.
“We just started too slow today and we had them gameplanned, but they were a step quicker than us,” West Chester Rustin coach Keith Cochran said. “And they really beat us on the boards. They do a good job boxing out and they have all five guys crash the boards and it worked for them today.”
Shanahan outscored the Golden Knights, 20-11, in the second quarter to open up the game. John Kozinski, who scored eight points, scored four of his in the quarter, and when Joe O’Malley buried a 3-pointer from the corner, the home crowd went nuts and you could feel the Golden Knights would paddle uphill all day.
“We really need to get out to good starts,” said Bishop Shanahan coach Ken Doyle. “We have struggled in games we started slow so we wanted to get out today. And Brendan Dearing had a great game with 10 points for us. He is our energy guy and he has been taking those same shots all year and today then went down. Brendan does a lot of things for us.”
Dearing’s 10 points were matched by junior guard David Angelo’s 10. Angelo also added six assists as he constantly beat his defender and penetrated to the hoop, either finishing at the rim or dishing off to another teammate, often Dan Browne, Kozinski or Thomas Ford.
“I usually shoot the three more often but they were playing me up today,” Angelo said. “And I could beat my man so I went to the basket and either took the shot or passed the ball. This is a great feeling to be going to play at Temple. I have never played at a place like that and to make states was a big goal for our team.”
Rustin (17-9) tried to make a run in the third quarter, and when Tim Durant drained a long 3-pointer the Knights were within 11 at 37-26. Jake Nelson then scored in tight to make it 38-30, and it looked like things might get interesting. But, Angelo scored in the waning seconds of the period for a 40-30 edge and Dearing drained a 3-pointer at the start of the fourth to push the lead back to 43-30.
The Shanahan defense limited the two talented Rustin sophomores, Taj Asparagus and Jake Nelson, to just 13 combined points and harassed the Golden Knights into a 15 for 42 shooting night. Brandon Frazier led Rustin with 11 points.
“To be going to Temple is a big thing for us,” Dearing said. “When we saw where the game were going to be played we said first we want to go to Temple and then to Villanova for the finals. So, we reached one of our goals today. Today we played really well right from the beginning of the game and just kept going.”
Rustin will play the loser of Upper Merion and Chester in a playback game Wednesday, as Saturday’s four quarterfinal losers vie for three remaining state bids. One win would assure a state berth.
“Rustin is a good team but we ran our offense today and did what we wanted to do,” Doyle said. “And the kids played great defense, something they have done all season.”
Bishop Shanahan 54, West Chester Rustin 39
WC Rustin: McMahon 1 1-2 3, Asparagus 2 0-0 4, Frazier 4 3-6 11, Barrouk 1 0-0 3, Durant 2 0-0 6, Thomas 1 1-2 3, Nelson 4 1-3 9. Totals 15 6-13 39.
Bishop Shanahan: Angelo 3 3-3 10, Ford 1 2-4 4, Browne 3 0-0 6, Dodds 3 0-0 7, Dearing 4 0-2 10, DiBeneditto 0 0-0 0, Lamb 0 0-0 0, Kozinski 4 00 8, O’Malley 2 4-4 9. Totals 20 9-13 54.
W,C. Rustin 8 11 11 9 – 39
Bishop Shanahan 13 20 7 14 – 54
3-point goals: Barrouk, Durant 2, Angelo, Dodds, Dearing 2, O’Malley.