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Plymouth Whitemarsh clinches fifth straight SOL American title over Cheltenham

Plymouth Whitemarsh junior Naheem McLeod dunks the ball against Cheltenham during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2017. (Adrianna Lynch/For Digital First Media)

WHITEMARSH >> Plymouth Whitemarsh clinched an outright Suburban One League American Conference championship Tuesday night with an 88-65 win over Cheltenham at Colonial Elementary School.

It’s the Colonials fifth straight league title, 14th under head coach Jim Donofrio and 26th in school history.

“Your goal is to win as many games as you can,” Donofrio said. “We’re fortunate that we’ve had a great run the last … four or five (years) especially. I think we were 13-1 (in league play) for three years in a row and then 14-0 last year and hopefully we can roll with that and keep going. It’s a heck of an accomplishment.”

“It’s great, but we have more things ahead,” senior guard Ahmin Williams said. “We’re trying to win the league, the district and the state. We got more things ahead. League is step one.”

PW jumped out to a 22-6 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Naheem McLeod scored the team’s first eight points and had 12 in the first quarter.

Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Danny Cooper goes up for a bucket during the Colonials’ game against Cheltenham on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Adrianna Lynch/For Digital First Media)

“It’s really special,” Williams said of playing with McLeod. “It’s an amazing thing. There’s not a lot of 7-2, 7-3, guys out there. We try to use him.

“We were able to swing the ball, extra passes and then look in for Naheem. Naheem kept moving, kept sealing. He kept working. We talked to him about what things he wasn’t doing. He showed it tonight. We’re real proud of him for that.”

“We found out (how hard it is to stop McLeod),” Cheltenham head coach John Timms said. “When you have a 7-footer, anything there on the rim, he’s going to put back. It became a possession game. Even if they missed, he got the offensive rebound. It’s like the only way you can gain a possession is to get a steal. That’s what it became and they went to him often and early and it got our bigs in foul trouble. We had to play small, which worked to their advantage even more. He was the difference maker in the game.”

The advantage grew to 22 points in the second and the Colonials’ lead hovered around 20 throughout the second half.

McLeod scored a game-high 27 points to go with 15 rebounds. Ish Horn added 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, Alan Glover 12 points and Ahmad Williams and Danny Cooper each had 11 points.

Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Ish Horn goes up for a bucket against Cheltenham’s Kyin Healey during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Adrianna Lynch/For Digital First Media)

Ahmad Bickley led Cheltenham with 23 points. Tim Myarick added 11.

It was Plymouth Whitemarsh’s eighth straight win over Cheltenham and 10th in the last 11 meetings.

The Panthers entered Tuesday’s game as the No. 16 ranked team in District 1 Class-6A. The top 24 teams qualify for the postseason. Cheltenham ends its regular season Friday night at home against Hatboro-Horsham.

“We’re playing pretty well,” Timms said. “(PW) is an undefeated team for a reason. To come in their place and beat them, you have to play almost a perfect game. I think we played well for two-and-a-half quarters. Given that, I don’t think we’ll see another team put ball pressure like this team. It’s hard to measure anyone against this team.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh 88, Cheltenham 65

Cheltenham 6 14 20 25 — 65
Plymouth Whitemarsh 22 18 19 29 — 88

C: Lewis 5 0-1 8, Harrison 2 3-6 8, Bickley 9 3-3 23, Myarick 4 2-2 11, B Scott 1 2-2 4, Mclone 1 0-0 2, McCall 0 1-2 1, Healey 2 0-0 4, L Scott 1 0-0 2.
PW: Horn 5 7-8 17, McLeod 13 1-4 27, Cooper 5 0-0 11, Pendleton 1 0-0 2, Ahmin Williams 2 2-2 6, Ahmad Williams 3 4-7 11, Glover 4 4-6 12, Cherry 1 0-0 2.
Three-point goals: C: Harrison, Bickley 2, Myarick. PW: Cooper, Ahmad Williams.

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