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Late-game defense, 3-pointers spark Council Rock North boys basketball win over Bensalem

Council Rock North senior Brady Haggerty (30), right, soars over Truman senior Carter Kelley (4) in a recent Indians' battle with the Tigers. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – It’s not that Council Rock North hasn’t been competing this season on the hardwood. It’s just that the Indians have had a tough time closing games out.

That was not the case Wednesday night, Jan. 3 in the Rock’s first win of the season against a Suburban One National League foe. Trailing Bensalem by two points heading into the fourth quarter, the Indians outpaced the Owls 17-8 in the final frame to record a 50-43 triumph in their second win of the season.

Ironically, the late-game breakdowns have been coming on the defensive side of the ball.

“That’s been our Achilles Heel all season,” said CR North head coach Jesse Krasna.

“We defend really well for three quarters, we rebound really well for three quarters, then, in that fourth quarter, we give up some timely rebounds or aren’t able to get stops in key situations.

“(Against Bensalem), our guys were really focused on making plays on the defensive side of the ball in the fourth quarter.”

Stepping up on ‘D’ were senior Brady Haggerty and junior D.J. Mischak. Both players drew charges in the fourth quarter that waved off fourth-quarter baskets by the Owls.

“Those guys really stepped up and sacrificed their bodies,” stated Krasna. “We had a lot of guys gang-rebounding; we had at least three guys that had more than four rebounds.

“It was a total team effort and I was proud of the way our group rallied and really brought it for a full 32 minutes.”

While first team All-SOL National standout Richard Dean no longer prowls the court for Bensalem, the Owls still have second teamer Ward Roberts, 3-point sharpshooter Taco Douglas and low post man James Leible.

“We knew Bensalem had a lot of talent. They returned two or three starters from last year. They picked up James Leible and he’s a really talented player.

“We knew we were going to have our hands full.”

Also stepping up on defense was junior Parker Ehlin. The 5-11 junior for the Indians marked Roberts, a 6-1 point guard capable of double-digit scoring on any given night. Indeed, Robert posted 19 points in a recent Owls win over Pennsbury and he scored 13 in a recent win over Penn Wood, a state qualifier in 2017.

“We knew that Ward Roberts was a key guy,” explained Krasna. “Not only does he score, he does a good job getting his teammates the ball.”

“We wanted to limit his touches and keep the ball out of his hands as much as we could.

“When he’s got it, he’s just so hard to defend – he can make open shots, he can get to the rim, he gets his teammates easy shots.”

When Roberts did catch the ball, Ehlin’s teammates jammed the lane, limiting the senior to just six points on the night.

“Parker stepped up to take him out of the game and the rest of our guys were there so that when he did catch it, they made sure he saw there were three of four guys in the paint waiting for him so he had to give it up.”

Roberts wasn’t the only Bensalem player the Indians needed to mark. The other is 6-7, 210-pound center James Leible, who recently transferred to Bensalem from Conwell-Egan Catholic.

Leible posted up with three straight jumpers in the first period.

“He’s really hard to defend because he can step out and make shots, he’s really agile, he gets to the rim,” stated Krasna. “We held him to 11 points but the biggest thing for us was to keep him off the glass; that’s where he can really hurt you.”

Stepping up late in the game offensively for the Rock was sophomore Hunter Wan, who canned a pair of 3-pointers in the final frame. Ehlin also hit a pair of treys in the fourth quarter and the Rock poured nine 3-pointers into the basket in the game.

North shot 9-for-27 from behind the arch, making key treys in the final frame when it counted most.

“We didn’t shoot the ball really well from three (point range) but the ones we made were really timely.

“We hit four of those nine threes in the fourth quarter and that’s crunch time.

“Sometimes it’s not if you make them but when you make them and guys stepped up and hit really big shots.”

Haggerty led the Indians in the scoring column with 18 points including a pair of 3-pointers. Ehlin was next with 10 including three treys. Mischak and senior Harry Wyatt also hit from 3-point range.

Conversely, Bensalem – which lived and died on 3-point shots last year – took only 13 shots from behind the arch and made just two of them on treys by Keith Parrish and Carlos Gonzalez.

Council Rock North 50, Bensalem 43

(Jan. 4 at CR North)

Bensalem           12 10 13 8 – 43

CR North            18 3 12 17 – 50

BENSALEM (3-5, 1-2: SOL) — Taco Douglas 9, Ward Roberts 6, Keith Parrish 6, James Leible 11, Lamont Hasker 8, Carlos Gonzalez 3; TOTALS — 16 9-14–43.

COUNCIL ROCK NORTH (2-4, 1-2: SOL) — D.J. Mischak 3, Harry Wyatt 3, Justin Walton 2, Parker Ehlin 10, Brady Haggerty 18, Matt McAlister 6, Angad Ahluwalia 2, Hunter Wan 6; TOTALS — 15 11-13–50.

3-POINT GOALS: B – Gonzalez, Parrish; CRN – Mischak, Wyatt, Ehlin 3, Haggerty 2, Wan 2.

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