Royersford >> As the West Chester East players filed out of the locker room following a season-ending 63-54 loss to Archbishop Ryan in their PIAA 5A boys’ basketball state opener Friday evening at Spring-Ford High School, Viking head coach Tom Durant reflected on the seniors whose high school careers had just ended.
“This wasn’t a good crop, this was a great crop of seniors,” said Durant. “They left big shoes to fill. Ben Delaney is our scrapper catalyst. Gibby Trowery is a motor that doesn’t stop. M.J. Kushner is a jumper – he jumps, jumps, jumps – when he’s not getting the rebound, our other guys are getting it because he’s outjumping the guy he’s going against; Brenden Merten is a zone-buster, he gets the threes; Chris Anderson is a presence guy inside; always steady for us.”
Archbishop Ryan, the fourth seed in District 12, came out at the start of the game hitting on all cylinders from the outside, and building a 17-6 lead in less than six minutes. By the end of the first period Ryan held a 19-12 lead.
The Raiders nailed four treys in the first quarter, two by 6-foot-5 senior Colin Reed. Ryan hit a total of nine treys Friday, four by Reed, three by 6-foot-4 junior Gediminas Mokseckas.
“Ryan was impressive with the three ball,” said Durant. “Every time we made a run, they’d find No. 5 [Reed] open or No. 10 [Mokseckas] open. The scouting report said only one of their kids [Mokseckas] can make threes, but [Reed] was making them too. And they were deep threes, not high school threes.
“But our kids are resilient – Ryan would go up by 10, we’d get it down to three, they’d get it back up to six, we’d get it back down to two. So it was one of those types of games where we just couldn’t get any momentum.”
Early in the second quarter, a putback by Kushner and a drive by Delaney cut Ryan’s lead to 22-18. And a trey from the left corner by Kushner kept West Chester East within shooting range of Ryan at halftime, trailing 29-23.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Carr got underneath for a couple of baskets, the second a tip-in to make it 29-27. Carr continued to get buckets underneath in the third quarter, but a Mokseckas three gave Ryan a 39-33 lead. Kushner hit a trey just before the buzzer to make it 39-36.
Ryan increased its lead to 48-40 before a Delaney trey from the left corner, followed by a Tym Richardson blocked shot and subsequent Delaney drive made it 48-45.
Reed hit another trey from the right wing, and following an East turnover Reed got inside to give Ryan a 55-45 lead. Meanwhile, the Vikings began to run into foul trouble.
Kushner hit a three from the right side to cut Ryan’s lead to 55-48 with 1:16 left. Following a missed Ryan free throw, Carr’s putback and free throw made it 55-51 with 59.4 seconds left.
Two seconds later, Kushner crumpled onto the court, and had to be assisted off the court as he suffered an injury to his ankle area. He did not return to the game.
“We don’t know what the injury is yet, he put a little pressure on it, but he’s having pain everywhere in that area,” said Durant following the game. “He’s a great hurdler and high jumper for our track team.”
Carr’s trey from the right wing cut Ryan’s lead to 58-54 with 47.8 seconds left, but a Raider steal and a couple of free throws gave Ryan a 61-54 lead with 38.6 seconds left.
“Ryan’s a good opponent,” said Durant. “They’re a Catholic League school, they recruit out of their region, but our kids played hard – they have nothing to be ashamed of with their efforts.”
Archbishop Ryan 63, West Chester East 54
Archbishop Ryan 19 10 10 24 – 63
West Chester East 12 11 13 18 – 54
Archbishop Ryan (63): Stone 4 3-4 11, Weiss 0 0-2 0, Vasquez 2 2-2 8, Reed 6 3-4 19, Mokseckas 5 3-5 16, Isopi 0 0-0 0, Lemon-Warren 4 1-2 9, Totals 21 12-19 63.
West Chester East (54): Trowery 3 0-1 8, Delaney 2 0-0 5, Kushner 5 0-0 13, Carr 8 1-2 18, Merten 0 0-0 0, Richardson 3 2-3 8, Anderson 0 2-2 2, Totals 21 5-8 54.
Three-point field goals: Archbishop Ryan – Vasquez 2, Reed 4, Mokseckas 3; West Chester East – Trowery 2, Delaney, Kushner 3, Carr
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