PHOENIXVILLE >> Ryan Kendra has been a leader on the football field and basketball court for four years at Upper Perkiomen High School.
An All-Pioneer Athletic Conference player in both sports, the 6-foot-4 senior has been a leader at crunch time for the Indians.
Kendra stepped in the clutch in a big way Friday night with 18 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot as Upper Perkiomen nipped Phoenixville, 41-40, in an exciting contest.
Kendra had plenty of help from his teammates as Upper Perkiomen took a 23-14 lead at halftime. The game was then tied at 29 entering the fourth quarter as Kendra won it on a pair of free throws before blocking a last-second shot to end it.
“It was tight, very stressful,” said Kendra. “We came in knowing they could shoot the lights out. We had to slow them down and move them off the line. We started playing lackadaisical. You can’t sleep on anyone.”
Upper Perkiomen improved to 3-0 in the PAC Frontier and heads into Christmas with a 6-1 record, the best record of any PAC school. Phoenixville dropped to 0-2 PAC and 2-4 overall.
Senior Liam Boyle played a solid all-around floor game, and senior Jon Brown scored nine points with one 3-point field goal and made two steals, one of them a critical theft in the fourth quarter that led to Kendra’s two foul shots for the winning margin with 53 seconds left in regulation time.
Brendan Jenkins, Phoenixville’s 6-6 senior center, contributed 14 points, 14 rebounds and one blocked shot while battling the Indians’ 6-8 Will Walker.
“It was physical down low,” Upper Perkiomen coach Jared Krupp said. “Jenkins hit a couple key buckets at the end. That is a credit to him.”
Hot shooting from beyond the arc by KJ Quinn (three 3s, nine points), Quinn Danna (two) and Colton Brown (two) helped fuel the Phantoms’ comeback.
“It was back and forth all the way,” said Krupp. “However, it is nice to win on the road, in Phoenixville, on their court, in this atmosphere before Christmas. We’re happy.”
Krupp had plenty of praise for Kendra.
“He is a dynamic athlete,” Krupp said. “He gets to the rack, he can shoot, rebound. We are real blessed to have him as a member of this program.”
Eric Burnett, Phoenixville’s coach, talked about the battle.
“It was certainly a good game,” said Burnett. “Upper Perk deserves a lot of credit. They are well-coached, and they made plays down the stretch. Our players fought through some adversity early on. Then our energy picked up and we can count on our defense.”
Burnett talked about Jenkins’ role as a team leader, especially in light of the injury to Tim Kopera.
“Brendan has turned the corner here with his rebounding and scoring,” Burnett said. “Brendan has really given us leadership as a senior captain with Tim Kopera hurt. It shows on the court with his offense.”
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