HATBORO – Last year, Council Rock South got Lower Moreland’s season off to a bad start, pasting a 30-point loss on the Lions in the opening round of the Hatboro-Horsham Tipoff Tournament.
Lower Moreland returned the favor Friday night, outpacing the Suburban One National League Golden Hawks by 23 points in the opening round of this year’s tipoff at Hatboro. The Lions used an 18-5 third-quarter scoring run to turn a 10-point halftime lead into 40-17 edge, winning the season-opener for both teams 51-28.
“Before the game even started, I said to our team, ‘we’re not getting embarrassed again like we did last year,” said LM junior Shane Cohen, who led all scorers with 18 points. “And we came out with intensity and fire and we came back like last year never even happened.”
In the first half, the Lions used the 3-pointer to build a 14-5 lead by the end of the first quarter and a 22-12 edge at the intermission. A trey by LM reserve guard Bryce Horn (11 pts.) put the Bicentennial Athletics League (BAL) rivals up 22-8 with two minutes left in the first half.
To their credit, Council Rock cut the deficit to 10 points by the half on a putback basket by senior Estaban Gomez and a desperate one-handed reverse layup by classmate Simon Magidenko (7 pts.) with 1.6 seconds left in the second quarter. Instead of helping the Hawks’ cause, it incensed the Lions.
“When we were in the locker room, Coach (Seth) Baron said, ‘the first four minutes of the third quarter, that dictates everything. So we came out with intensity and we shut them down and we kept pulling away.
“That was our goal – not letting them get in a groove again and not letting them knock down their shots.”
CR South shot less than 20 percent from the floor and that wasn’t even what killed their chances the most. Lower Moreland scored at least 10 points off of turnovers, maybe more.
“One of the keys to our game was to limit the turnovers,” said Hawks head coach Derek Wright. “We weren’t able to do that tonight and it hurt us.”
While South senior Trey Irvin (6 pts.) managed a 3-pointer early in the third quarter, it wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with Cohen, who, in the first three minutes of the second half, stole the ball twice in the Hawks end of the court while adding easy layups at the other end.
Cohen’s offensive performance included a 3-pointer and a game-high five field goals in the second half.
“He was clearly the best player on the court tonight, hands down,” said Wright. “He handled the ball well, making plays, aggressive on defense. He played great.”
Making matters worse for CR South was Horn, who single-handedly mounted a 5-0 run that put the Lions on top, 34-15 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Moments before adding a trey, Horn drove to the bucket from the left side of the baseline and layed in a floater with no backboard.
“Our whole team is defense first,” stated Cohen. “Once we get a stop, we go right back to offense.
“We just kept getting stops and our offense followed through and we just kept knocking points down.”
The Hawks are coming off a season in which they graduated four of five starters including second team All-SONL standouts Austin Thomas and Alex Nordenholt. While South has returned to the court without much varsity experience, the Hawks have plenty of size in 6-5 seniors Zach Shade and Gomez, along with 6-4 senior Spencer Haun and 6-4 junior Connor Lewis.
And yet, the Lions were able to overcome the disadvantage in height, on this night.
“We’ve been stressing defense, boxing out, non-stop, especially since we’re going to be the smallest team on the court every night,” said Baron.
“As big as they are, Bryce (Horn) and Shane (Cohen) are great on speed. You put Forrest (Keys) out there, you put Jake (Himmelstein) out there – smaller forwards with some speed – I think we were a tough matchup for them.”
At times, especially in the second half, Council Rock had trouble inbounding the ball.
“We had trouble with everything; it looked like we didn’t practice,” said Wright. “And I have to take responsibility for that. But yeah, we didn’t look prepared at all.”
Council Rock came on strong in the fourth quarter with Irvin, senior Kyle Meakim and classmate Christian Jabbar all hitting shots from behind the 3-point line.
In the end, it wasn’t nearly enough, however.
“Sometimes, you just have one of those nights,” said Wright. “Basketball is game of rhythm, and they got into a good rhythm early and we didn’t; it happens.”
From here, the Lions get set for the tournament championship 7:30 p.m. Saturday vs. William Tennent. Meanwhile, the Hawks head to the consolation duel at 3:45 p.m. vs. the host team.
NOTES: The Council Rock South girls outpaced New Hope-Solebury 62-45 in the tournament opener. The Lady Hawks advance to the championship 5:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Little Flower, a 48-41 winner over the host team.
Lower Moreland 51, Council Rock South 28
(Dec. 8 at Hatboro-Horsham)
Lower Moreland (1-0) 14 8 18 11 – 51
CR South (0-1) 5 7 5 11 – 28
LOWER MORELAND — Dan Shimon 5, Forrest Keys 7, Shane Cohen 18, Joey Cerruti 4, Bryce Horn 11, Jordan Zoubroulis 4, Jake Himmelstein 2; TOTALS — 18 10-13—51.
CR SOUTH — Simon Magidenko 7, Zach Shade 4, Kevin McNamee 1, Estaban Gomez 2, Trey Irvin 6, Jack Rebholz 2, Kyle Meakim 3, Christian Jabbar 3; TOTALS — 11 1-6—28.
3-POINT GOALS: LM — Shimon, Keys, Cohen, Horn 2; CRS — Magidenko, Irvin 2, Meakim, Jabbar.
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