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Injuries, foul trouble too much for West Chester Rustin to overcome in loss to Mastery Charter

PHILADELPHIA >> The West Chester Rustin boys basketball team did not hang around long in the PIAA Class 5A playoffs, but it sure was not for a lack of trying. 

The Golden Knights could not overcome a slow start and the loss of three players, one to injury and two to foul trouble, as the Golden Knights fell to Mastery Charter, 86-80, ending Rustin’s season at 18-10. 

Rustin played most of the game without three of its starters and still was within striking distance of the talented Pumas in the fourth quarter.

Mastery Charter (20-6) jumped out to a 23-8 lead after the first quarter, one in which Rustin shot just four for 16 from the field and turned the ball over six times in the frame. With the Pumas constantly getting to the basket and shooting a white hot nine-for-13 from the field, it looked like a blowout in the making. But sophomore Griffin Barrouk came alive in the second period, scoring 18 of the Golden Knights’ 24 points in the period to draw the Golden Knights to within 42-32 at halftime. Barrouk led all scorers with 31 points on the night, including six treys. IV Pettit added 26, including three 3-pointers for Rustin.

“Griffin really gave us a big boost tonight,” West Chester Rustin coach Keith Cochran said. “We got off to a bad start, I thought we may have been a little nervous with this being a playoff game. But, the kids fought and fought and even after Jake (Nelson) and Dan (Wethey) fouled out and we lost Jacob (Barksdale) to injury, the kids never stopped fighting.”

Mastery got big games from Jamir Reed, who had 29 points, and Sampson Nyanku, who added 26 points. With Barksdale out with injury in the first quarter after a collision under the boards, and Nelson and Wethey in foul trouble, the Pumas’ big men had their way under both baskets as Rustin was getting dominated on the boards. The Pumas consistently attacked the basket and got the Golden Knights in foul trouble early in the contest, and that trend continued for the full 32 minutes.

The Pumas went to the free throw line 35 times compared to Rustin’s 13 trips to the charity stripe. Rustin made a run at Mastery Charter in the third quarter when Nelson scored in tight to make it a 52-44 game. After a Puma turnover, IV Pettit, who scored 26 for the Golden Knights, scored in the lane to cut the lead to 52-46. Another Puma miss led to Nelson scoring in tight and it was a 52-48 game. But, Reed scored four quick points for Mastery and the Pumas took a 56-50 lead at the end of three periods.

“We feel we can get to the basket against any team,” Reed said. “and tonight, we were quicker than them and we just wanted to go to the basket. They came back in the second period when that guy got hot but we just went back to attacking the basket.”

The fourth quarter was more of the same, as Rustin was playing without the injured Barksdale, while Nelson and Wethey fouled out in the third quarter. Pettit and Barrouk kept the Golden Knights within striking distance, but the Pumas lead was never less than seven points until the end of the game. Reed and his friends attacked the basket and drew numerous fouls and shot 19 free throws in the fourth period to hang on. Mastery will advance to play Abington Heights in the second round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs. Reed and Nyanku both had 12 rebounds for the Pumas as the battle underneath went to Mastery Charter. The Pumas shot 27 for 52 from the field for the game, compared to the Golden Knights’ 30 for 71.

“We knew they had size and our plan was to go after Nelson and Barksdale,” Mastery Charter coach Terrence Cook said. “We had to go inside and it worked out for us because we got two guys out of the game and got to the free throw line a lot.”

Mastery Charter 86, West Chester Rustin 80

WC RUSTIN (80): Nelson 4 1-2 9, Barrouk 12 1-2 31, Pettit 8 7-10 26, Wethey 0 -0 0-0, DeMarco 0 0-0 0, Bacthelor 2 0-0 4, Barksdale 0 0-0 0, Hickson 2 0-0 5, Pew 2 0-0 5. Totals 30 8-134 80.

MASTERY CHARTER (86): Reed 9 8-10 29, Mcathey 6 9-11 21, Nyanku 10 6-8 26, Mobley 1 2-2 4, Cromartie 1 3-4 5, Jones 0 1-2 1. Totals 27 29-35 86.

WC Rustin 8 24 18 30 – 80

Mastery Charter 23 19 14 30 – 86

3-point goals: Barrouk 6, Pettit 3, Pew, Hickson, Reed 4.

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