EAST ROCKHILL >> Putting up points was a struggle for both the Pennridge and Faith Christian boys basketball teams Friday night.
But the host Rams finally found a patch of quality offense right after halftime.
“For a while there it looked a real well-oiled machine for about six or seven minutes,” Pennridge coach Dean Behrens said.
Pennridge came out of the break and ran off 11 straight points — seven coming from Navy commit Sean Yoder — to stretch its nine-point lead out to 20 as the Rams pulled away from the Lions and claimed a 47-33 win in the nightcap of the Pennridge Memorial Classic.
“I feel like it’s our first game so we’re getting all of those jitters first game,” Rams senior Jonathan Post said. “We have a lot of inexperience as well, so Sean and I are the only two returning varsity players, so just bringing all of that together. Little nervous when you’re shooting the ball and then once you get in the rhythm of things I felt like, especially coming out of the second half, we picked up. We just sealed the game at that point.
Yoder finished with a game-high 14 points while Post chipped in 10 points for the Rams, who never trailed after Yoder and Jack Gillespie began the contest with consecutive 3-pointers. Pennridge (1-0) led by as much as 27 en route to earning a spot in Saturday’s 6 p.m. final against Audenried, which edged Truman 44-43 in the tournament opener.
“I kind of told the boys one of the keys tonight was not to be nervous,” Behrens said. “And I knew a lot of guys have not played varsity — a lot of a varsity minutes, so I thought they’re going to be nervous. So that’s why I think we didn’t shot the ball well in the first half. Now, our defense played really well, conceptually I was really pleased with that.”
For Faith Christian (0-1), shots just were not falling until the Rams effectively put the game out of reach. The Lions trailed 41-15 with 5:10 left in the fourth before finishing with an 18-6 run.
“We didn’t put the ball in the basket,” Lions coach Tony DaCosta said. “And anytime you can’t do that, there’s going to be a struggle. And there was a struggle for us tonight.”
Owen Bradford had eight points to pace the Lions, who graduated several key players from last year’s side the reach the PIAA Class A semifinals for a second straight season. Faith faces Truman in the consolation game at 3 p.m.
“We have to find out what our rotations is going to be like and this was Game One to kind of give us a better idea who we can count on,” DaCosta said. “We can’t play five guys the whole season. We got to find guys that can give us some other minutes so it’ll be an opportunity for guys to take advantage of.”
Pennridge pushed its lead to a 12 twice in the second quarter, the second time at 17-5 after a Post jumper. Faith cut the margin to 17-10 with a Josh Forker jumper and a John Camiola 3-pointer but a Trent Fisher basket had the Rams up nine at halftime.
Yoder started the third knocking down then after Fisher scored inside Yoder connected on a three for 26-10 advantage.
“Second half, though, I said ‘Let’s try to go on a little 6-0, 7-0 run to start the second half, maybe make them call the first time out,’” Behrens said. “And we did a good job, we really hit them hard there.”
Jumpers by Post and Yoder followed, extending the lead to 20.
“They were running a zone so (Behrens is) like all right we got to get the ball here and look for this little dump (pass),” Post said. “And I think three times in a row we got a similar dump down for a good shot or a kick out. And he just went over what the looks were and we executed them really well. And then they had to get into the man (defense) after that.”
A Bradford triple ended the run but the Rams responded with the next six points to go up 36-13 after a Dunn basket.
“Coach has been preaching help-side defense. That was a big problem in our first scrimmage,” Post said. “And just every day since then it’s ‘help side, help side, help side.’ And I felt tonight we did a great job coming in help side, I felt we forced them to shoot a lot of outside shots.”
Up 36-15 at the end of the third, Pennridge grabbed its biggest lead when Christian Guldin made a pair of free throws to make it 45-18 with 3:45 left.
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