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All Together Now: Unified Pottsgrove picks up first win, edges Great Valley

LOWER POTTSGROVE >> Prior to the 2017-18 season, Pottsgrove head coach Jack Flanagan presented his team with ‘Ubuntu,’ a term coined by the Boston Celtics during their run to an NBA Finals Championship in 2008.

“Ubuntu,” recited Flanagan. “The idea of ‘I am who I am because of who we are.’”

With that in mind, the Falcons used an all-out team effort on Tuesday night to sink visiting Great Valley, 70-65, and pick up their first win of the season.

Pottsgrove’s Jason Hein rises up for a contested shot while Great Valley’s Liam Ward defends. Hein was fouled on the play. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Senior forward Jayden Blakey spread the floor and connected on four 3-pointers while junior guard Justin Robinson slashed his way through the paint en route to a team-high 19 points in a game the Falcons (1-1 overall) never trailed.

“That’s our team,” said Blakey, who opened up both the game and the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers. “Our guys were creating the open looks and feeding me the ball outside. It was in the moment. We wanted to come out and get things going early on.”

Pottsgrove jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the early going, which featured 3-pointers from Blakey and Robinson.

Pottsgrove’s Khaliym Smith (3) rises up to shoot over the defense of Great Valley’s Will Fredrick (15) and Nate Graeff (32) during the first half Tuesday night. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Great Valley (1-2 overall) senior Liam Ward never let the Falcons pull away completely, though. The big man scored a game-high 21 points including a one-handed dunk midway through the first quarter to put an end to Pottsgrove’s early run. Senior guard Matthew Porreca followed with 16 points — 13 during the second half — while Nathan Graeff battled for 12 points in the paint.

“We must have tried four different defenses out there,” said Great Valley head coach Paul Girone, “but they had an answer everything. They’re really physical and athletic and they get to the basket 1-on-1. That team is really hard to stop.”

All throughout the night Great Valley pushed and made its runs — including a 12-2 stretch during the third quarter where Ward and Porreca traded 3-balls for the Patriots.

Great Valley then went on a 11-3 run midway through the fourth quarter to bring the game to 64-62.

From there, Pottsgrove guard Manny Clark pulled it away again as he sank a layup, then earned himself a trip to the line with a steal on the ensuing possession.

Clark shined in the second half, scoring nine of his 13 points while senior forward Mike Ziegler finished out the night with eight points.

Pottsgrove’s Jayden Blakey (11) looks to pass during while a pair of Great Valley defenders put the pressure on. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

The Falcons were clutch at the free throw line late, hitting for 16 of 21 foul shots late to close it out.

Girone pointed out that while his team caught steam late, the Patriots still have some early season developments to make.

“We didn’t play particularly well over the weekend,” said Girone of the Twin Valley Tip-Off Tournament, “but the second half was probably the best half of basketball we’ve played all season. So we’ve got to build off that and keep it going.”

Meanwhile, Flanagan and the Falcons look like they’re headed in the right direction as his team continues to come together.

“It’s something we talk about here,” said Flanagan. “Coaches coach, players win games. You coach and do all of these things in practice, but it comes down to execution on game night. We made players early — we shot it pretty well early — and at the end, we made foul shots. So I’m really pleased.”

Great Valley’s Matt Porreca (24) is guarded by Pottsgrove’s Justin Robinson during the second half of Tuesday night’s game. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Well after the corridor was cleared of fans and some players, Flanagan walked down the hall with a fist in the air.

“I am who I am,” he called out.

“…Because of who we are,” answered senior center Jason Hein.

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