DOWNINGTOWN >> The Bishop Shanahan boys basketball team accomplished something no other Eagles team has ever done Tuesday night at a jam-packed Wagner Gymnasium.
Shanahan defeated mighty Coatesville, 60-58, to take home the school’s first ever Ches-Mont League championship in a thrilling final.
But it sure was not easy, as the Eagles (19-4) had to withstand a furious fourth-quarter rush by Coatesville (19-5) and could only watch as Dapree Bryant’s last-second runner bounced away, clinch the coveted title for the Eagles.
Bishop Shanahan put four players in double figures with Joe O’Malley and Kevin Dodds leading the way with 14 points apiece. Dodds also grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked two shots and generally made all the right moves down low for the Eagles.
“This is just an amazing feeling to win this title and to beat a team as good as Coatesville,” Dodds said. “It was a very physical game and one we really wanted, but they wanted it just as bad as we did. I have a lot of respect for them. This is great and we will celebrate but we still want to do big things in districts starting next week.”
Coatesville jumped on the Eagles at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, going on a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead, and it looked like Shanahan was going to be in for a long night.
But David Angelo hit two 3-pointers, and Dodds had six points in the second quarter, as the Eagles stormed ahead to take a 33-26 lead at halftime. Shanahan shot a torrid nine for 11 from the field in the second quarter to take the seven-point lead, outscoring the Red Raiders 23-9 in the frame.
But as stars usually do, Red Raider guard Jhamir Brickus stepped up. Brickus, who led all scorers with 24 points, scored 13 of Coatesville’s 15 third-quarter points to draw the Red Raiders to within one at 42-41 at the end of three. Shanahan turned the ball over five times in the third quarter and 18 times for the game.
“We have been playing from behind the last two games and the funny thing is that we started the games OK,” Coatesville coach Chuck Moore said. “But then we have been taking our foot off the gas and letting teams back in the game and we can’t do that this time of year, because the games now are do or die and we let this one get away.”
With the Eagles up by one going into the fourth quarter, the capacity crowd was on its feet and roaring at every basket and every referee whistle. Shanahan went eight for 10 from the foul line in the fourth period to secure the win, while the Red Raiders shot just four for 15 from the field in the final stanza.
With 25 seconds to play in the game and the Eagles up 56-55, Bryant was whistled for an intentional foul, which brought the Coatesville coaches leaping out of their chairs. O’Malley drained both free throws, and the Eagles got the ball back, up 58-55. Dodds was fouled inside and he hit one of two from the stripe for a 59-55 lead with 17 seconds to play.
Coatesville brought the ball up the floor and Brickus was fouled attempting a three. The guard hit all three shots to draw Coatesville within one. The Eagles crossed half court and Angelo was fouled, but hit only one of two to keep Coatesville’s hopes alive. Moore called timeout with 3.8 seconds to play to set something up for the Red Raiders.
Coatesville tried to get the ball to Brickus, but he was double-teamed. Bryant took the inbound pass and went to his left on a straight line to the hole, but his shot missed and the buzzer sounded, sending the Eagles leaping into each other’s arms with a championship in the bag.
“This is just an amazing feeling,’ Shanahan guard Dan DiBeneditto said. “All year our goal was to win the Ches-Mont and play Coatesville. We did not want to play anybody else. They are a great team and tonight we showed we are the champs of the league.”
Bishop Shanahan coach Ken Doyle talked about some of the harrowing moments in the fourth period where it looked like the Red Raider pressure would snatch the title from the Eagles.
“I was a little frustrated we did not handle the pressure as well as we usually do there in the fourth,” Doyle said. “Coatesville turned up the intensity and we had to match that and this group decided early on that they wanted to take this program to new heights, and they have done that. But this is only one of the checks on our list. We still have work to do and we get back to it next week.”
Bishop Shanahan 60, Coatesville 58.
COATESVILLE (58): Summers 3 0-1 6, Brickus 7 7-8 24, Bryant 3 1-2 8, Young 1 0-0 2, Bladen 2 0-0 4, Crews 2 0-0 5, Holmes 3 1-2 7, Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 9-13 58.
BISHOP SHANAHAN (60): Dodds 6 2-4 14, O’Malley 4 4-4 14, Angelo 3 4-5 13, Ford 4 4-4 13, Chenard 2 0-0 6, DiBeneditto 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 14-17 60.
Coatesville 17 9 15 17 – 58
Bishop Shanahan 10 23 9 18 – 60
3-point goals: Angelo 3, Ford, Chenard 2, O’Malley 2, Bryant, Brickus 3, Crews.