DOWNINGTOWN >> To dethrone a champion as mighty as the Coatesville boys basketball team, you had better shoot the ball well, rebound almost every errant shot and not turn it over.
Oh, and you also have to cross your fingers and hope the Red Raiders don’t shoot the lights out.
For three quarters of Saturday’s Ches-Mont League semifinal at Wagner Gymnasium, Great Valley did all those things. Unfortunately for the Patriots, they could not seal the deal, as Coatesville stormed back in the fourth quarter and then outscored Great Valley 10-3 in the overtime period for a thrilling 69-62 triumph that put Coatesville into Tuesday night’s championship game against Bishop Shanahan.
After Matt Porreca buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 59-59 game at the end of regulation, the fresher Red Raiders (19-4) took control of the overtime period as Dapree Bryant scored four of his game-high 26 points and Jhamir Brickus added five of his 19 points to thwart the Great Valley (16-7) upset bid.
“We did not shoot well in the first half but we started to go to the basket in the second half,” Brickus said. “I went inside outside to get my shot back and they started turning the ball over in the fourth period because it seemed they were out of gas.”
For three quarters, Great Valley had control of the game, as the Patriots ran their patented motion offense to perfection. Liam Ward was sensational for Great Valley with a team-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists. The Patriots shot 16 for 32 through three quarters and took a 44-38 lead into the fourth period while Coatesville was only 12 of 36 through three quarters.
“Give props to Great Valley for running their offense to perfection,” Coatesville coach Chuck Moore said. “We started hanging our heads a little in the first half because our shots were not going in, but we came together as good teams do and started attacking the basket and getting some easy offense off of our defense. The kids came through. It was late but we came through.”
Great Valley held a 56-51 lead with 2:03 to play in the fourth quarter, but Bryant went strong to the hole to make it a 567-53 game. Then, the Patriots turned the ball over, one of eight fourth period turnovers for the leg weary Patriots. Great Valley turned the ball over 19 times for the game. Brickus scored on a follow before the Patriots turned the ball over again, and Chuck Smith scored in tight to give Coatesville a 57-56 lead, the first Red Raider lead since it was 6-4 in the first two minutes of the game.
“They were really tired and they could not keep up with us,” Bryant said. “And to win another Ches-Mont championship would be big because I am a sophomore and to win two in two years would be great and then get two more.”
While Porreca’s buzzer-beater gave Great Valley life, it was apparent that the deeper Red Raiders would have the advantage in overtime. Great Valley missed four foul shots in the fourth quarter, and Gavin Frankenheimer drew blanks on his three free throws in overtime. Two more Great Valley turnovers turned into Bryant baskets and the Red Raiders let out a huge sigh as they live to defend their crown Tuesday night, right back at Wagner Gymnasium.
“I could not be prouder the effort my kids gave tonight,” Great Valley coach Paul Girone said. “And they are the deep team and we still did not have Nate Graef, and I told my coaches we could not withstand too many fouls, and there were a lot of ticky tack fouls called on us. But our kids have nothing to be ashamed of. They ran a clinic for three periods but we just could not get it done late.”
Coatesville 69, Great Valley 62, overtime.
COATESVILLE (69) Summers 1 0-0 2, Brickus 5 8-12 19, Bryant 9 7-11 26, Av. Young 0 2-2 2, Bladen 1 0-0 2, Crews 1 0-0 3, Holmes 2 2-2 6, Smith 3 3-5 9, Aa.Young 0 0-1 0. Totals 22 22-32 69.
GREAT VALLEY (62) Ward 7 5-8 20, Frankenheimer 3 2-5 11, Prevost 3 0-0 6, Porreca 5 4-4 16, Carter 3 0-1 6, Stillwell 0 3-3 3. Totals 21 14-21 62.
Coatesville 14 9 15 21 10-69
Great Valley 16 17 11 15 3-62
3-point goals: Brickus, Bryant, Crews, Ward, Frankenheimer 3, Porreca.