LOWER MORELAND >> It’s an expectation that anytime Lower Moreland and Holy Ghost Prep meet in a basketball game, it’s going to come down to the last few possessions.
Tuesday night, having already beaten the Lions by a single point earlier this season, the Firebirds pulled out another tense win on their rival’s home floor. Of course, it was a game filled with plot twists, plenty of big shots and two extra frames of hoops.
Tyler Mish’s three-point play with 20 seconds left in double overtime proved the winner as HGP emerged with a 44-40 win and left Lower Moreland lamenting an opportunity lost.
“This year is a special year and we feel like we can beat anybody in this league but I don’t feel like we lost, I feel like Ghost won tonight,” Lions coach Seth Baron said. “They were poised down the stretch, I thought we were too, we got some shots we wanted, our shots just wouldn’t fall. That was a great basketball game.”
The key number for Lower Moreland (15-5, 12-2 BAL Independence) on Tuesday was five. After closing the first quarter on a scorching tear and taking a 17-8 edge, the Lions scored just five combined points in the second and third quarters. More accurately, senior Dan Shimon scored five points for Lower Moreland while the rest of the team couldn’t get anything to drop.
Both Baron and LM point guard Shane Cohen felt like they got plenty of good looks and were willing to shoot those shots again if they were offered the chance. Some nights, the ball just doesn’t go in.
“Coach said we all played our best and our effort’s not what beat us,” Cohen said. “We had a lot of open shots and we live or die by that so there’s not much else we can do other than knock them down. I think on most nights, we’ve shown we can do that.”
Cohen stated every loss hurts, but Tuesday’s hurt a bit more because it came at the hands of Lower Moreland’s biggest rival in the BAL. Baron said he respects the job Holy Ghost coach Tony Chapman and his staff do every season and the way they seem to bring out the best in his team.
After Shimon put Lower Moreland up 22-18 in the second quarter, the Firebirds (13-9, 12-4) closed the period on an 11-0 run. The spree was really the only time all night HGP had any sustained success against Lower Moreland’s defense, which was energetic and determined all game long.
Cohen, who is diminutive only in stature at 5-foot-7, was a force on the defensive end. He had seven steals and his teammates combined for seven more. The junior guard was so disruptive that HGP adjusted its entire strategy around him, sending whatever man Cohen was guarding to stand in the deep corner and keep Cohen away from the ball.
“I was very happy with the defense, they had a good gameplan by putting whoever Shane was covering down in the deep corner,” Baron said. “I think he’s the best defender in the league, so that negates him a little bit and even if we switch it up, they’ll send that guy down into the corner. Other guys stepped up, Jake Himmelstein, Joey Cerruti, Jordan Zoubroulis.”
With Ghost leading 31-24 early in the fourth, the Lions found a way to get back into the game. Shimon, who tied with Cohen for a team-best 11 points, hit a pair of corner threes off Zoubroulis passes and Himmelstein split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 31-31.
Baron credited HGP for seeing the gap in their defense and fixing it, but LM had found its confidence again. Cerruti hit a huge three with 1:15 left to tie the game at 36-36, then after Jack Elliott’s free throws, Cohen forced a steal and took it all the way for the tying score.
LM managed the last shot of the fourth quarter and got a clean look, but it wouldn’t drop.
“They’re our shots, we’ve been doing it all season,” Cohen said. “I don’t want to say it was an off night but we weren’t in our groove. Their zone really got to us. I tried taking charge of pressuring the point guard in the fourth, got a quick steal and then they made a good adjustment of putting me in the corner.”
Holy Ghost Prep had a chance to win it at the end of the first overtime, but Elliott couldn’t convert off a decent look of his own and the teams went at it for four more minutes. Elliott led HGP with 13 points but it was teammates Sean Elliott and Mish that came up with the big plays in the second overtime.
Cohen is in his second year as the starting point guard but said he’s felt much better this year after coming off an injury early in his sophomore season. He put a lot of work in on all aspects of his play over the summer but didn’t quite know what to expect from the team this season.
He learned pretty quick everyone had gotten better and they could do something special. Tuesday’s loss was a setback, but LM is still in position to win a BAL Independence title and is one of the top teams in the District 1/11-4A bracket.
Lower Moreland is back on the court quickly, heading to Dock Mennonite on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
“Chemistry was a possible concern going into the season, in could they build that chemistry on the court and it’s been wonderful,” Baron said. “From one to eight, Forrest (Keys), Bryce (Horn), Andrew Finnegan, they pass to each other, they communicate. They make my job easy.”
HOLY GHOST PREP 44, LOWER MORELAND 40 (2OT)
HOLY GHOST PREP 8 8 13 9 0 6 – 44
LOWER MORELAND 17 3 2 16 0 2 – 40
Holy Ghost Prep: Greg Sylvester 0 1-3 1, Jack Elliott 3 7-7 13, Jack Rittenmeyer 5 2-2 12, Greg Calvin 0 1-4 1, Sean Sylvester 2 0-0 4, Tyler Mish 2 1-1 5, Sean Elliott 3 2-2 8. Totals: 15 14-19 44.
Lower Moreland: Shane Cohen 5 0-0 11, Jake Himmelstein 1 1-3 3, Bryce Horn 0 1-3 1, Jordan Zoubroulis 0 2-2 2, Dan Shimon 4 0-0 11, Andrew Finnegan 1 0-0 3, Joey Cerruti 2 4-5 9. Totals: 13 8-13 40.
3-pointers: LM – Shimon 3, Cohen, Finnegan, Cerruti.
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