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Roman Catholic holds off Pennridge’s late rally in PIAA-6A 1st round

MARPLE >> After three quarters, the Pennridge boys basketball team was facing an 11-point deficit against Roman Catholic. The Rams, however, were not ready call it a season right there.

“I think in a lot of cases teams that are down 11 against Roman in the fourth quarter — I just told the boys — end up losing by 25,” Pennridge coach Dean Behrens said. “We made a run at them.”

Eight straight points to start the final period pulled the Rams within three when Tyrese Lewis’ free threw made 49-46 with 5:19 remaining in Saturday night’s PIAA Class 6A first round contest. But the Cahillites responded with the next seven and that was enough of a cushion for Roman to hold off one more late charge from Pennridge and come away with a 58-56 victory at Cardinal O’Hara.

“You never know who’s going to win the game. Two teams come on the court it’s a 50/50 chance. That’s how we looked at it,” Pennridge junior Jon Post said. “We didn’t care who they were, what their reputation is. Everyone in this gym probably thought ‘Oh, they’re going to come out with a win.’ We didn’t care about that. We wanted to show everyone else in here that we could. And that’s the attitude we came in and we showed we wanted to do it.”

Hakim Hart scored 17 of Roman’s 30 points in the first half and connecting on four 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 22 points as the Philadelphia Catholic League champs came close to repeating last year’s state opener when they were bounced by Perkiomen Valley.

“Preparing for Pennridge, we talked about that a lot, just kept talking about Perk Valley and stuff,” Roman Catholic junior Seth Lundy said. “We said it was going to be a similar type of team, like they’re all kids that are capable of shooting, like they’re undersized but they go for every rebound, they play extremely hard. So we basically been battle-tested with that already with that type of team before. And we just knew coming in that we were just going to have to play every possession, we were just going to have to stay focused and lock in.”

Lynn Greer III added 16 points — making both ends of a 1-and-1 with 18.2 second left to put the Cahillites (20-6) up four — while Lundy scored 13 of his 15 points in the third quarter as Roman, the second seed from District 12, advances to the second round to face District 1 runner-up Plymouth Whitemarsh — a 71-47 winner over Dallastown — Wednesday at a site and time to be announced.

“In the beginning of the game, before the game even started, I heard their coach talking about me and Lynn saying we were going to just going to have to deny those guys and let the other persons on the team beat us. And that’s basically exactly what we did,” Lundy said. “We have guys that can score on this team, it’s just not me and Lynn.

“Allen Betrand can score, Hakim can score, John Kelly can score, Louie (Wild) can score, we have guys that can score so when he said that I was like I’m not going to force any shots, so I just stayed away, I let Hakim do his thing. I probably had like six assists from him tonight alone.”

It is the third meeting all-time in states between the PW and the Cahillites — Plymouth Whitemarsh winning in the 2010 quarterfinals en route to the 4A title while Roman won their meeting in the 2016 semifinals on the way to securing back-to-back PIAA championships.

“We know a lot of those guys, those guys know us so it’s definitely going to be a battle,” said Lundy of facing the Colonials. “And like you said, that could be a championship game for 6A but sadly it’s a second-round playoff for that game. But it’s definitely going to be a championship type of environment.”

Post finished with 18 points — 12 in the second half to pace Pennridge, which ended its season 19-9.

“I feel like when someone’s pushing me out, they don’t want me to get that ball. And I want to get that ball and show them that you can push me, you can shove me but I’m still capable of going at you,” Post said. “You know, that gets me like get a little mean streak, I want to go at you and granted, I was finishing some shots.”

Sean Yoder scored 10 points while Lewis and Mike Molettiere chipped in nine and eight points, respectively, for the Rams, who took sixth in District 1 to earn their first state appearance since 2015.

“It was a real positive year,” Behrens said. “Give me a couple days to kind of reflect and enjoy it, we’ll have our banquet next week and be able to celebrate a great season that we had.”

Trailing 49-38 entering the fourth, a Jake Pestrak 3 cut the margin to eight while Yoder’s basket off a drive made it 49-43. After Post scored inside, Lewis hit the second of two free throws to pull the Rams within three with 5:19 to go.

Roman ended the 8-0 run when Lundy found Kelly inside for two. Hart proceeded to collect his only five points after halftime — first with a steal and breakaway slam then draining a 3-pointer to put the Cahillites up 56-46.

“I wish we had a little bit more time on the clock,” Behrens said. “Hart was lights out. We zoned a lot. You know, I didn’t think they’d shoot quite that well. You were hoping they weren’t going to shoot quite that well. Listen, Hart’s a good shooter, I knew that going in but you kind of roll the dice, try to make them shoot it from the cheap seats and hope maybe they have an off night. They didn’t.”

Back-to-back 3s from Molettiere had the Rams within 56-52. Twice in the final minute, Roman missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to keep the margin at four. A Lewis putback made it 56-54 at 18.2 seconds. Greer III was fouled before Roman inbounded the ball and hit both ends of his 1-and-1 for a 58-54 edge.

Post grabbed an offensive rebound off Yoder’s missed corner 3 and scored, but the basket came with 0.8 seconds left. After a Rams time out, the Cahillites inbounds pass went to Lundy and Roman had held on to reach the round of 16.

“I don’t know what type of night it was, but we just couldn’t push the extra gear. We could have won this game easy by 25 but instead we only win by two,” Lundy said. “That just comes with effort and just playing hard every possession. Every possession counts and some possession we took off. We can’t do that going forward.”

Roman led 10-4 in the first quarter before Pennridge went on a 9-0 run to go up 13-10 after a Ryan Warner corner 3-pointer. Back-to-back 3s from Hart and Greer III — who each had eight points in the period — put the Cahillites back up 16-13 but Pestrak knocked down a triple from the corner just before the buzzer to make it 16-16 heading to the second quarter.

The Rams took a 22-20 lead when Warner scored on a drive but with Pennridge in some foul trouble — Lewis picking up three fouls, Post called for two — Roman Catholic capped the half with a 10-2 run to lead 30-24 at the break.

Lundy began the third with a 3 while Greer III’s basket off a drive gave Roman its first double-digit advantage at 35-24. Two Lundy free throws at 5:30 gave the Cahillites their biggest least at 39-26.

Lundy hit two more 3-pointers in the quarter then sent Roman to the fourth up 49-38 with his buzzer-beating putback.

“I feel like since I only I had two points at halftime, I felt like the coaches were probably going to let up on me a little bit and probably key on Hakim cause he has 17 compared to a guy that had two,” Lundy said. “So I realized going into the third quarter, I was really going to have to start a spark and just be a key player on offense. And that’s exactly what I did, I had 13 points in one quarter so that was great for us.”



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