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Yoder clutch in 4th, scores 27 as Pennridge edges CB East

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EAST ROCKHILL >> A few pregame jitters are normal for Pennridge boys basketball’s Sean Yoder.

“Before the game I get nervous, but that’s what happens every game,” he said. “If you’re not nervous, you didn’t prepare right.”

The final eight minutes, however, is completely different for the junior

“Fourth quarter, I got confidence in myself, confidence in my teammates,” Yoder said.”I feel like I can make things happen, get open shots for teammates and that’s what it’s about.”

Friday night, Yoder was calm, composed and most importantly clutch in the fourth as the Rams fended out visiting Central Bucks East to keep pace in the Suburban One League Continental Conference race.

Yoder scored 12 of his career-high 27 points in the quarter, the last eight coming as Pennridge used a 13-3 run to pull away late and top the Patriots 63-54.

“Trust me everyone questions the coach for this, that and the other thing, it’s nice having Sean Yoder control the game,” Pennridge coach Dean Behrens said. “We ran our pick-and-rolls all night long with him and Jon Post, especially in the second, third and fourth quarter and those guys really made it happen.

“Sean really got some openings and it was little frustrating second quarter I don’t think he  felt he shot the ball as well, I thought the second half he shot the ball great.”

The Rams (13-4, 6-2 conference) had only four players score in the contest but all four finished with double figures. Tyrese Lewis collected 14 points, Jon Post added 12 points while Mike Molettiere hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter and had 10 points as Pennridge won its sixth straight.

“I think attacking the basket, me personally and as a team, attacking the basket, getting our in transition that was our big thing tonight,” Yoder said. “We didn’t want them to settle in zone. Attack the basket. We didn’t get to the foul line as much as we wanted, we put the ball in the basket.”

Central Bucks East (10-8, 3-6) grabbed one-point leads twice in the fourth yet Yoder responded each time.

Leo Masterson’s corner 3 put East up 49-48 before Yoder got into the lane and scored. Nick Roggio’s basket had the Patriots back ahead 51-50 but Yoder came up with a steal and lay-in that gave Pennridge the lead for good.

“We’re a resilient group,” Yoder said. “And I love these guys, I’ve been playing with them for a while now. I have confidence in them, they have confidence in me to make the right decision, the right shots. So that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to roll with that and we’ll see what happens.”

After a Molettiere free throw with 2:50 left made it 53-51, Yoder pushed the advantage to four, spinning into the lane and dropping in a shot. A Collin Stein drive had East within 55-53 yet Yoder answered by slicing in from the right wing for a layup.

“He’s probably the best player in our league,” said CB East coach Erik Henrysen of Yoder. “I mean, he’s really tough. We got a couple guys that are difficult to stop in one-on-one situations in our league and he’s definitely at the top of that list.”

A Lewis foul shot at 43.1 seconds had the Rams up 58-53 while Lewis’ three-point play off a long Yoder outlet pass with 26.2 seconds to go effectively wrap up the victory.

“Rese has become a force and teams have to defend him and figure out what they want to do,” Behrens said. “So what happens is when you kind of figure out what you want to do with Sean and Jon, then you got to deal with Tyrese and sometimes teams are only single covering him or leaving him a little bit open. He gets a crack, he’s going to the basket, he’s going to score.”

For Pennridge, the win — the ninth in its last 10 games — keeps the Rams level in the loss column with both Central Bucks South and Central Bucks West, who sit 7-2 in SOL Continental play.

“It’s going to be fun down the stretch,” Behrens said. “We feel pretty good about ourselves at being 13-4 with five to go and four out of five of them are league games. So, you just can’t take a night off, you know, you can’t take a night off.”

Roggio scored 21 points to pace CB East, which has dropped three of its last four – the Patriots’ win during that stretch coming Wednesday at Wissahickon. Ben Markowitz hit three 3-pointers in chipping in 11 points.

“We were in a good spot, three minutes and some change to go, you have the ball and you’re up one,” Henrysen said. “That’s where we wanted to be. I felt like we came out really slow and gradually started to play our style of basketball.

“You know, we had the ball and it was turnover and they score, another turnover and so at the end of the game sometimes you just got to clean that up a little bit and make those little plays that we weren’t able to.”

Both teams are on the road for conference games Tuesday. Pennridge is at Souderton while CB East visits CB West.

In the first quarter, the Rams and Patriots traded one-point leads 10 times before Pennridge put together a 10-0 run with the help of two Molettiere threes to go up 21-12.

After a Roggio basket, Yoder found Post for two inside and a 23-14 advantage at the end of the period.

The Rams, however, went cold in the second quarter, and could only score six more points in the half. Masterson, meanwhile, hit a pair of 3-pointers as part of an 8-2 Patriots run to pull within 29-28 at the break.

In the third, East tied the game at 32 then twice went up by a point, the second time at 37-36 when Markowitz scored inside and was fouled – he missed the free throw – at 3:13. A six-point burst by the Rams had the home side up 42-37 after a Yoder steal and layup.

Baskets from Jesse Rivera and Kyle Cassidy cut the margin to 42-41 but Yoder knocked down a jumper in the final seconds to make it 44-41 entering the fourth.

After Lewis rebounded his own miss and scored for a 46-41 Rams edge, a Roggio three-point play at 6:27 cut the lead to 46-44.

A Yoder jumper had the margin at four but two Roggio free throws at 5:35 and Masterson’s triple from the corner had East ahead 49-48.  The lead switched three more times – staying with the Rams after Yoder’s steal and transition basket.

Note: Pennridge was without Jake Pestrak Friday night due to Pestrak having been in a car accident.

“He’s out until next week maybe. We’ll see what the doctor says on Monday,” Behrens said.

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