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Post leads Pennridge past North Penn in SOL Continental finale

Pennridge's Jon Post look for an opening to pass during the Rams' game against North Penn on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

TOWAMENCIN >> Jonathan Post didn’t merely get off to a fast start.

As North Penn coach John Conrad put it: “He had 21 points before he even broke a sweat.”

“I just wanted to come out there, bring energy. Sean (Yoder) came up with that three in the first quarter, sort of set the tone,” Post said. “(North Penn) started looking at him and Sean probably gave me two or three dishes for my first six points. I went right up and kept going from there.

“I felt in a rhythm, I was feeling my shot,” Post said. “I got in the post — I hit that one jumper and felt like ‘I’m gonna keep going at them.’ (North Penn) was falling for the pump fakes and I was able to rip through on a few, get some layups, get fouled.”

Post scored 18 points in the first half alone and went on to a hefty 26-point effort to lift Pennridge to a 57-43 victory in a battle of playoff-minded squads.

Pennridge’s John Post shoots to score during the Rams’ game against North Penn on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

“It’s a great win,” Post said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win the conference, which we didn’t do.

There was no way we were coming in here and not getting that first-round bye, which was our second goal.

“We were all in, and the results showed.”

With the victory, the Rams (17-5) finished off their Suburban One League Continental Conference schedule with a 9-3 mark. Pennridge led by as many as 19 in the third quarter then held off a North Penn rally to earn an impressive road win.

“Our boys stayed mentally focused and mentally strong,” said Rams coach Dean Behrens, who has guided his squad to the SOL Tournament this weekend and a first-round bye in the District 1-6A Tournament as a No. 6 seed.

North Penn (12-10, 6-6), fighting hard for a win on Senior Night, got within six in the fourth, but Pennridge again found its way, getting a pair of free throws from Tyrece Lewis and Post to build the lead back to 10.

North Penn’s David Robinson rose the net to score in the first quarter of a home game, Thursday, February 8, 2018 against Pennridge. Debby High for Digital First Media

“They’re not gonna go away,” Behrens said of the North Penn comeback, which his team was able to withstand. “They’re a good team. They’re not gonna go away. With (Chris) Coleman and (A.J.) Mitchell, and (A.J.) Catanzaro hit a couple of shots at the end of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth quarter to kind of get them going a little bit.”

“Sean (Yoder) did a good job of handling the pressure they put on him. Mitchell’s a tough guard. Sean guarded Mitchell and he also had to bring the ball up against him, which is not an easy task.”

Both teams went back and forth early until the Rams got something going with Post.

The junior power forward scored 10 of Pennridge’s 13 first-quarter points. On one sequence, the Rams swung the ball around, finishing with a pass to Post, who hit a baseline jumper to extend the lead to 13-6. North Penn would trim it to 13-8 by the end of the first quarter.

Then in the second, Jake Pestrak came off the bench for the Rams and got hot from the outside.

He hit a trio of three-pointers, and with the inside-outside combination of Post and Pestrak, Pennridge was firmly in control.

Pestrak scored nine in the quarter, Post scored eight, and the Rams began to blow the game open.

North Penn’s AJ Mitchell is surrounded by Pennridge defenders during their game on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

Post used a spin move down low to score on one series, later hit a difficult shot in traffic, then his defensive rebound at the other end triggered a Ram fast break, capped by a Pestrak three to make it 28-12 Pennridge.

Post, who finished the first half with 18 points, hit a mid-range jumper to provide the Rams a 31-19 cushion at the break.

“I thought Jon Post really kind of set the tone in that first half and I thought that was big,” Behrens said. “Because he kind of got (David) Robinson out of sync a little bit, got him in some foul trouble, and then it opened a lot up.”

Shortly after intermission, Post battled inside and converted on a three-point play.

The Knights played the Rams even in the third, finishing the quarter off with a three by Lindsay and a strong drive and three-point play by Coleman.

But Michael Molettiere’s contributions — inside play and a three — helped Pennridge take a 45-33 advantage into the fourth.

The Knights cut it to six but could not get closer.

Pennridge’s Sean Yoder looks to pass during the Rams’ game against North Penn on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (Debby High/For Digital First Media)

“We just got down too many,” Conrad said. “It would have been nice to get a little momentum going into districts but hopefully we make it. I think we will. We’ll find out Sunday and the guys will come back Monday ready to go to work.”

Coleman had the team high for North Penn with 11 points, with Robinson, Catanzaro and Lindsay each adding eight.

Pennridge, getting 13 points from Pestrak and 10 from Yoder, will head to the SOL Tournament this weekend followed by a week of practice to prepare for its second-round home game in districts.

“It’s gonna be something special,” Post said of the postseason. “It’s gonna be something special.”

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