UWCHLAN >> Entering Tuesday’s action, it appeared Coatesville and Downingtown East had separated themselves from the Ches-Mont League pack.
But by the time the lights went out Tuesday night, Bishop Shanahan made it known there is a third team to be reckoned with in the National Division.
The Eagles played a very aggressive defensive game, limiting Downingtown East point guard Malik Slay to just four points, as the Eagles led wire to wire in downing the Cougars, 45-33, in a key Ches-Mont National tilt.
“We have been playing good defense all year, not just tonight,” said Bishop Shanahan coach Ken Doyle. “And the credit goes to the kids, because they work super hard every day in practice and take pride in their defense. And we had balanced scoring. The guys know they have to contribute when they are called on and they did that tonight.”
Shanahan (5-1 Ches-Mont, 9-5 overall) jumped out to a 22-15 halftime lead, largely on the strength of 11 points from center Kevin Dodds 11. Dodds also had six first half rebounds and the Eagles harassed the Cougars (4-2, 11-3) into a horrible 5 for 22 first half shooting nightmare on their way to a 10 for 44 shooting night. The Eagles won every quarter and led every minute of the game.
Downingtown East had trouble with both the Eagles’ 2-3 zone defense and man-to-man defense. But East did make a run in the third quarter when Corey Hernandez and Jarred Desrocher hit back to back 3-pointers to close the Shanahan advantage to 28-24.
But, Dan Browne, who along with Dodds, led the game with 12 points, went strong to the hole for a score to give Shanahan a 31-25 lead after three. The Eagles shot 14 for 43 from the field on the night.
“We heard all about Downingtown East in the papers and they were the hot team and the team going to the Final Four and we knew we weren’t playing them until mid season so it gave us time to get our team together.”
With a six-point lead going into the final frame, the Eagles took complete control of the game. Brendan Dearing scored right off the bat to make it 33-25 before East’s Wills Montgomery drained the third of his three treys to make it 33-28. But after a Shanahan miss, East came down the floor, only to have Andrew King blow a dunk opportunity. At the other end, Joe O’ Malley drained a three for the Eagles and they had a 36-28 lead with 4:13 to play.
“We really try to take the other team’s best player out of the game and tonight that was Slay,” Browne said. “And we have a lot of guys that contribute and that is a good thing because anybody can have a bad night so we have multiple guys that can score.”
After a mini East run in the fourth quarter ended on a Slay free throw, Browne drove hard down the lane for a layup, got fouled and hit a free throw of his own to sew up the statement win, putting the Eagles right behind Coatesville in the tight National Division race.
“We try to play hard defense every game,” Dodds said. “And we knew Slay had to be stopped tonight for us to win.”
East, which was undefeated until last Tuesday’s loss to Coatesville, has now dropped three out of four games.
“We never seemed to get into a rhythm,” said East coach John Goodman. “They played good defense and we got frustrated a little more than we should have been tonight.”
Bishop Shanahan 45
Downingtown East 33
Bishop Shanahan: Dodds 3 6-7 12, Browne 5 0-0 12, Angelo 2 2-3 8, Ford 0 1-2 1, Dearing 1 0-0 2, Kozinski 1 0-0 2, O’Malley 2 2-2 8. Totals 14 11-14 45.
Downingtown East: Slay 1 2-4 4, King 1 2-2 5, Cahill 2 1-1 6, Wetzel 0 0-0 0, Montgomery 3 0-0 9, Hernandez 2 0-0 5, Desrocher 1 1-2 4. Totals 10 6-9 33.
Bishop Shanahan 10 12 10 14 – 45
Downingtown East 7 8 10 8 – 33
3-point goals: Browne 2, Angelo 2, O’Malley 2, Montgomery 3, Hernandez, Desrocher, Cahill, King.