CALN >> Never count a champion out of a contest no matter how dire the situation seems.
Friday night in the quarterfinal round of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs, the North Penn High School boys basketball team held a double-digit lead on Coatesville at Ross Kershey Gymnasium. North Penn had controlled most of the first half, beating the Red Raiders on the glass and shooting 10-for-21 from the field. But, in a three-minute stretch at the end of the third period, Coatesville took the life out of the Knights and marched themselves to victory.
Four straight possessions by the Knights resulted in turnovers by the hungry Coatesville defense. When Jhmair Brickus hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the period, the teams were tied. Then, North Penn began to fade as the Red Raiders outscored the Knights, 24-13, in the final period to go on to a 62-51 victory.
The fourth-seeded Red Raiders (22-4) advance into Tuesday night’s semifinal against No. 8 Cheltenham, which upset top seed Perkiomen Valley, at Temple University’s Liacouras Center at 7:30 p.m..
“We talked at halftime when were down by nine points, the kids did not panic,” Coatesville coach Chuck Moore said. “We said we were going to win this game being who we are, and that is playing defense, and that is what turned the game around for us. These kids are young, but they just love the moment and they have been doing it all season. They are a very relentless and tough bunch and that is how they play defense. They have been taking that to the floor every game.”
Jhamir Brickus led all scorers with 28 points, including a 10-for-12 performance from the foul line in the fourth period to seal the victory. Coatesville took a 40-38 lead right at the start of the fourth period when Dapree Bryant went strong to the basket, something the Knights (19-6) were not allowing in the first half.
Coatesville opened the lead up, but the Knights’ Reece Udinski buried a three-pointer to trail 43-41, but they overcome a raucous home crowd.
“I think they gave up a little late in the game,” Bryant, who finished with nine points and three steals, said. “They had those football players and they were physical, but at halftime we just said ‘let’s go out and win this thing with our defense’.
And after Jhamir hit that shot at the buzzer, we had the momentum on our side. Can’t wait to get to Temple.”
Brickus took a feed from Tione Holmes and scored on a runner to make it 45-41 game and the
momentum was on Coatesville’s side now. The Red Raiders shot 13-for-21 in the second half, compared to 7-for-22 for the Knights.
The back breaker may have been an alley-oop pass Kamau Brickus threw to center Tyrel Bladen, who rammed home the dunk, sending the crowd into hysteria, and pushing the lead to 47-41.
North Penn came back, however, and it was 49-45 after Udinski, who had a team-high 15 points, sank a medium-range jumper. But, six straight foul shots by Brickus and another inside basket by Bladen kept North Penn at bay.
The Red Raiders outscored the Knights 43-23 in the second half to notch the impressive win.
Brickus was 13 of 15 from the foul line, and besides the 28 points, the superlative freshman added five assists, and is very excited to be playing at the Liacouras Center.
“It feels great to be going to play at Temple because I have never been there before,” he said. “This win showed we can come back on a good team and we are excited to be going to the semifinals. Tonight, again our offense came from the way we play defense.”
North Penn will face Perkiomen Valley in a consolation game. Coach John Conrad talked about that bad stretch for his team in the third period.
“We talked before the game and the two things we wanted to do was to keep them out of the paint and not turn the ball over,” Conrad said. “We took some quick shots in the third period and they turned us over and scored in transition, and that did us in.”
Coatesville 62, North Penn 51
NORTH PENN: Johns 3 6-10 12, Udinski 5 4-5 15, Giuliani 3 0-2 7, Ford 0 0- 0, Heiserman 1 0-0 2, Mitchell 5 2-2 12, O’Donnell 1 0-0 3, Coleman 0 0-0 0, Lindsay 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 11-19 51.
COATESVILLE: Bladen 3 2-3 8, Boulware 0 0-0 0, K. Brickus 2 3-3 7, J. Brickus 6 13-15 28, Bryant 4 1-2 9, H. Young 2 2-2 6, Holmes 1 2-2 4, Av. Young 0 0-0 0, Aa. Young 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 22-27 62.
North Penn 10 18 10 13-51
Coatesville 8 11 19 24-62
3-point goals: Udinski, Giulani, Mitchell, O’Donnell, J. Brickus 3.