NEWTOWN – Going into their battle with Suburban One Continental Conference rival Central Bucks West, the Council Rock North coaching staff had a lot of confidence in their team’s ability to compete with the Bucks.
While they didn’t come out with a win Thursday night (Dec. 14) on their home court, the way the Indians battled CB West proved that North’s coaches were not mistaken in their beliefs.
The fact was the Indians (0-2) led the Bucks nearly all 32 minutes of regulation. CB West needed a clutch free throw by 6-5 senior Collin MacAdams (17 points) with six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter in order to send the duel to an extra session, where the Bucks won 56-53 to even their record at 1-1.
“Our guys – they really brought it, tonight,” said second-year CR North head coach Jesse Krasna. “We told them before the game that CB West is one of the better teams that we’re going to see all season. In my opinion, they are one of the better teams and one of the better-coached teams in the state.
“But we told our guys, ‘we believe in you; you can hang with these guys and you can go toe to toe with them.’”
North senior Matt McAlister led the scoring effort for the Indians, notching a game- and season-high 28 points including four 3-pointers. McAlister registered all nine of his team’s points in the second quarter and all eight of the Rock’s points in overtime including a clutch 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining in the extra session.
“Matt McAlister, for us, was huge all game,” added Krasna. “He was just tremendous.
Add to that, this is the first time McAlister is playing point guard.
“We have him handling the ball a good chunk of the time. He’s doing a great job attacking the basket, taking shots when we’re in transition and also finding his teammates and breaking pressure.
“He’s really morphed his game – evolved his game – since last season.”
Council Rock got off to a great start, offensively, in this one, canning four three-pointers in the first quarter including a pair by senior Brady Haggerty (11 pts.) to take a 14-9 lead by the end of the initial frame. Back-to-back treys by Haggerty and McAlister in the final minute of the first period flipped a 1-point deficit into a five-point edge heading into the second quarter.
The Bucks, meanwhile got off to a slow start with MacAdams hitting just once from the floor in the first period and sharpshooter Shane McCusker (9 pts.) canning just once from 3-point range in the first half.
“They did a great job; they defended real well,” said 17th-year CB West head coach Adam Sherman. “But I feel like we were getting in our own way.”
“We didn’t play well in the first game and I feel like that carried over. Our guys have high expectations for the season and I think they’re putting too much pressure on themselves and they’re not relaxing and playing their game.”
The Bucks came alive in the fourth quarter and much of that energy was derived from their work on the offensive boards. Trailing North 35-29, MacAdams was able to draw a foul on a third-chance attempt.
While he made just one of two free throws, McCusker got a hold of the rebound and was immediately fouled beyond the arc. Fortunately for the Indians, not only did Shane miss all three foul shots, classmate Jake Reichwein (7 pts.) made just one of two free throws after drawing the foul on McCusker’s third miss.
In a span of a minute, West shot just 2-of-7 from the foul line. For the game, the Bucks made just 13 of 27 free throws. However, three straight trips to the charity stripe by CB West demonstrated the Bucks’ ability to dominate on the boards.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” admitted Sherman. “What kept us in the game and, I think, won us the game, was offensive rebounding.”
“CB West really beat us up on the backboard, especially toward the end,” added Krasna. “They had some big, strong kids down low and to their credit, they used it. They really took it to us.
“Our guys were fighting – it wasn’t for a lack of effort – but I think that was the difference in the game.”
CR North senior Harry Wyatt (8 pts.) canned a 3-pointer from the right side and classmate Justin Walton (4 pts.) hit an open layup to put the Rock up 40-33, but the Bucks countered with a steal and a fast-break bucket by Reichwein and a 3-point play by MacAdams to cut the visitors’ deficit to four midway through the fourth period.
While MacAdams took ahold of another turnover and followed with a layup to cut West’s gap down to two, Haggerty countered with driving layup and the and-one to stretch the Indians’ lead back to five with 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With 1:30 left, CB West sophomore Mika Munari (11 pts.) canned a key 3-pointer, cutting the Bucks deficit down to two but CR North junior D.J. Mischak found senior Angad Ahluwalia (2 pts.) underneath for an open layup that put the Rock up 45-41 with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.
With a chance to close this one out, the Indians faltered. First, Wyatt got on top of a defensive board but missed the ensuing 1-and-1 free throw. Then, Ahluwalia came down with a key defensive rebound and drew the foul. Unfortunately, Angad missed the 1-and-1 foul shot and the ensuing putback.
CB West took full advantage with McCusker pouring a 3-pointer into the basket with 26 seconds left to cut the gap to one and MacAdams draining 1-of-2 free throws to send the game to overtime.
In the extra period, McCusker gave the Bucks their first lead since the first period when he canned a trey with 2:30 showing on the clock. With 1:30 left, he hit 1-of-2 free throws, extending West’s lead to four.
With 40 seconds left, McAlister drew North back within a point, hitting a shot from the floor and 3-of-4 from the foul. While Matt hit his fourth trey in the contest with 14 seconds left to bring the Indians back within a point, Macadams sealed it, making a pair from the foul line with 5.3 seconds showing on the clock.
A key bucket by the Bucks was a desperate heave by MacAdams from near mid-court that beat the buzzer to cut a 9-point CB West deficit down to six heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rock rebounded with a 50-45 triumph over Upper Dublin Dec. 16 on the Cardinals’ home court. Wyatt led North’s scoring effort with 19 points. Next, the Indians host Truman on Tuesday, Dec. 19 then travel to sister school CR South Friday, Dec. 22. Meanwhile, CB West toppled Methacton, 47-42.
Central Bucks West 56, Council Rock North 53
(Dec. 14 at CR North)
CB West 9 12 8 16 11 – 56
CR North 14 9 12 10 8 – 53
CB WEST (1-1, 0-0: SOL) — Jack Mulhearn 12, Jake Reichwein 7, Shane McCusker 9, Collin MacAdams 17, Mika Munari 11; TOTALS: — 18 13-27—56.
CR NORTH (0-2, 0-0: SOL) — Harry Wyatt 8, Justin Walton 4, Brady Haggerty 11, Matt McAlister 28, Angad Ahluwalia 2; TOTALS: — 20 7-12—53.
3-POINT GOALS: CBW — McCusker 2, Mulhearn 3, Munari 2; CRN — Haggerty 2, Wyatt 2, McAlister 4.
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