BUCKTOWN >> Owen J. Roberts had eight different players score on Tuesday night as the Wildcats defeated the Upper Merion Vikings, 59-45.
Owen J. Roberts used a 9-0 run at the end of the second quarter to build a lead they would never relinquish. Five of those points came in the closing seconds of the half as Ryan Sayers knocked down a 3-pointer, then after an Upper Merion turnover, Sa’Vaughn Davidheiser tipped in a lob from under the basket to push the Wildcats lead up to 11.
“That was huge for our guys,” Owen J. Roberts Kevin Kirby said. “Ryan used a great jab step to get open on that three and then credit Sa’Vaughn for cutting to the basket and elevating over his man for that final shot.”
Upper Merion managed to keep the game close for much of the first half, but their inexperience caught up with them as the Wildcats forced the Vikings into several turnovers.
In the third quarter, Upper Merion tried to cut into Owen J. Roberts’ lead, getting as close as six points on three different occasions, but never could get closer than that.
“We’re a young team and we struggled once we got into foul trouble tonight,” Upper Merion coach Jason Quenzer explained. “This is just our second game of the year and it’s hard to replicate game situations in practice, so this is something we’re going to have to work on as the season progresses.”
The Wildcats took advantage of their deep bench and used frequent substitutions to capitalize on the Vikings’ inexperience and lack of depth. Once Upper Merion starter Austin Maucer fouled out in the fourth quarter, Owen J. Roberts finished the game on a 12-5 run.
“We have about nine guys who can log big minutes for us,” Kirby said. “We have guys who are better shooters and guys who can play defense, so our depth is a big strength for us.”
Sayers paced the Wildcats with 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half, while Dawson Stuart and Shyheed May finished with 12 and 11, respectively. Jon Eyer finished as the top scorer for Upper Merion with 10 points. Chris Clark added nine and Lukas Kim had eight.
Upper Merion shot well from the field all night long, finishing the night 18-for-37 and 5-for-14 from three-point range, but the swarming Wildcat defense forced too many turnovers.
“That’s something we focus on in practice,” Kirby said. “We always say, ‘Defense doesn’t slump like shooting does.’ I thought our guys played aggressive tonight and kept up the pressure on the defensive end all game.”
The Vikings also struggled at the foul line, making just four of their 14 free throws, while Owen J. Roberts made 14 of their 19 attempts.
The win gives the Wildcats their second victory of 2017 as they downed Great Valley last week before falling to Garden Spot. Upper Merion falls to 0-2 with the loss.
“We’re young and it’s still very early in the season,” Quenzer said. “We have a lot of time to work on things and there are a lot of positives to take out of tonight’s game.”
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