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Defensive tenacity sends Penncrest past Great Valley, into District 1-5A title game

PHILADELPHIA >> The old adage that defense wins championships could certainly apply to Penncrest’s 41-33 victory over Great Valley on Wednesday night at Temple’s Liacouras Center in the District 1 Class 5A semifinals. Although no championship was claimed Wednesday, it may lead to one.

The third-seeded Lions (20-6) harassed the second-seeded Patriots into a one-for-10 shooting nightmare in the fourth period, outscoring them, 12-5, to punch their ticket into the disrirct championship game against No. 8 Upper Merion on Saturday at The Pavilion at Villanova University.

“I mean shooting like that in the fourth period is not going to get it done,” Great Valley coach Paul Girone said. ”They took our back screens away and we had to settle for too many jump shots tonight. They out-rebounded us, and had 12 second-chance points.”

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA Penncrest players celebrate the team’s victory over Great Valley in the District 1 semi-final at Liacouras Center, Temple University Wednesday evening with a jump in the student section.

Junior Tyler Norwood led all scorers with 21 points, while Mike Mallon added 11. It was Norwood’s six-for-seven at the foul line in the decisive fourth period that was key for the Lions. Alex Capitano and Gavin Frankenheimer had nine points each.

“It is great for the community, the school and the kids that worked so hard to be going to Villanova,” Penncrest coach Mike Doyle said. “We thought at the beginning of the season that we wanted two home games and get to Temple, and now, I guess it is Villanova. We are very excited to be playing for a district title.

“Chris Mills did a great job defensively taking their back screens away. That was his job. He is a very underrated player. You put something on the board and he does it. He is like a college player in that regard.”

With the Lions holding a 29-28 lead after three, Norwood went to work, draining a jumper to give Penncrest a 31-30 lead, and they never trailed again.

PHOTO GALLERY: Penncrest vs. Great Valley

Three-point misses by Alex Capitano, Liam Ward and Matt Porecca were followed by made free throws by the Lions. Penncrest was 16-for-20 from the line, while the Patriots (19-7) went 2-for-2.

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA Penncrest coach Mike Doyle celebrates his team’s victory over Great Valley in the District 1 semi-final at Liacouras Center, Temple University Wednesday evening with a jump in the student section.

“Great Valley is a very well-coached team,” Doyle said. “You take away our free throws and it is an even game. We just play good defense and wait until Tyler makes a shot, and that happened for us tonight.”

Great Valley will play Bishop Shanahan in the third-place game Friday.

“We scrimmaged them (Penncrest) in the preseason, and they knew we like to run back screens,” Great Valley star Alex Capitano said. “Our shots just did not go down, but we will bounce back and make a run in states.”

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