WHITEMARSH >> There was no need to fish for a subplot in Coatesville’s season opening boys basketball game Friday night at Plymouth Whitemarsh, not with head coach Chuck Moore taking his Red Raiders home to face the reigning District 1 champs and the school where he starred and won a state championship.
But with one crossover dribble late in the fourth quarter, Coatesville freshman Jhamir Brickus announced that he may carry the Red Raiders’ plot this season, and that every one of Coatesville’s future opponents better know where No. 2 is at all times.
That Coatesville fell, 52-45, in an opener that was even sloppier than one might expect between two high octane — but raw — wannabe District 1 powerhouses, won’t be of much consequence come season’s end.
Brickus’ coming-out party, however, could prove to be the story of the night.
“I thought it was a great experience for my first game,” said the freshman point guard. “I think I did well.”
Brickus finished with 17 points (including an impressive 6-for-7 showing from the line), but it was that play late in the fourth quarter that brough the big crowd at Colonial Elementary to its feet.
Leading, 43-41, with less than 90 seconds to go, Brickus eyed up a PW defender on the right wing and unleashed a crossover dribble straight out of an And1 mixtape. One defender ended up on his backside, and the weak side defender — 7-foot PW freshman Naheem McLeod — was unable to get over in time to stop Brickus from finishing strong at the rim to give Coatesville a four-point lead with 1:20 on the clock.
The large contingent of Coatesville fans, seated just behind the Raiders bench and within arm’s reach of where Brickus left defenders in his wake, went absolutely wild, rocking the bleachers. Most of the the partisan PW fans gasped and some even applauded the play.
But despite the highlight-worthy play, Brickus, who scored 10 of his 17 in the fourth quarter, was unable to prevent his Raiders from making the mistakes down the stretch that cost them the victory.
“I expected the sloppiness, and I expected the turnovers and missed free throws,” Moore said. “My hope was it for it to be close and for us to be in a situation like we had at the end, and let the best man win.”
After PW scratched back to tie the game at 45, Coatesville lined up to inbound the ball from the side with less than 50 seconds to go, clearly planning to hold for the final shot.
But PW’s Kareem Breeden stepped in front of the inbound pass, took a few dribbles toward the rim and spun home a layup while being fouled. Unlike earlier in the game, when free throws were an issue for both teams, the Colonials hit their free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.
No coach likes to lose, but it was easy to tell after the game that Moore wasn’t going to let it linger too long. He was pleased with how his young team battled against the reigning District 1 champs in a hostile environment.
“Most people with young teams are cautious in how they approach it,” Moore said. “But I coach as I was as a player, I’m going to jump in with two feet. It’s amazing what you find from any man when your back is against the wall, you either sink or swim, and I think we swam pretty well tonight. I think they’ll grow up and learn from this right away. We dont have an easy schedule, and I think a test like this will be good for us moving forward.”
Coming into the night, all the attention was on Moore, who was bringing his young Red Raiders to a gym where his name is listed prominently — and in multiple places — all over the wall, and where he was an assistant under head coach Jimmy Donofrio before taking over at Coatesville.
Not only is Moore’s name on the banner honoring the 1,000 point scorers in Colonial history, and another listing some of the program’s most prominent names. But he’s front and center on the banner commemorating the 1997 PIAA Championship, where he was the Colonials’ senior captain.
That banner sits just above the door to the home locker room, a place where Moore’s internal compass led him when he first walked in.
“I laughed with Jimmy during the game, I had never been in the visiting locker room,” Moore said. “It was a great atmosphere and a great environment. … it was surreal to be here, and at the same time very emotional.”
PW was led by Ahmin Williams, who matched Brickus with 17 points, including 11 in the final frame.
Donofrio seemed relieved to be 1-0 on the young season. But he won’t be rushing to schedule his former pupil next year.
“Maybe it was the high of coming off a district title and thinking the luck will keep rolling, but there was nothing overly intelligent about scheduling that game for a lot of reasons,” Donofrio said. “It’s like when St. Joe’s plays Temple or Villanova play St. Joe’s. It just doesn’t matter.”
As for Moore, he and the Raiders would be happy to face PW again, given that it would likely come late in the District 1 tournament.
“What do you expect from PW-Coatesville,” Moore said. “It may be a rivalry, but I don’t think Coach D wanted to play ever again after that.”
NOTES >> With 5:35 left and the score tied at 35, the game was delayed for more than 20 minutes in the second half when both scoreboards stopped working. After multiple failed attempts to fix it, the referees at one point told both coaches that the PA announcer would announce time every 30 seconds and that players on both benches would “count down the final 10 seconds of the game” if it got that far. Fortunately, after moving the control board to the corner of the gym, one scoreboard began working and the game resumed. Both teams were allowed to warm up due to the lengthy delay. … Given the fact that it was the opener for both teams, each coach expected some sloppiness. But the first quarter was a sight to see. The teams combined for more fouls (12) than total points (10), and combined to shoot 4-25 from the floor and 1-8 at the free throw line.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 52, Coatesville 45
Coatesville: Summers 2 0-0 2, H.Young 3 1-5 7, J. Brickus 5 6-7 17, Clifford 0 0-1 1, K. Brickus 3 0-0 7, A.Young 0 0-0 0, Bladen 1 0-0 2, Boulware 3 1-1 7, Scott 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 8-15 45.
Plymouth Whitemarsh: Horn 1 2-3 4, Tilghman 1 0-0 2, Breeden, 1 0-5 2, McLeod 3 1-5 7, Cooper 2 0-0 5, Walker 0 0-0 0, AhminWilliams 5 6-11 17, Houston 2 0-1 2, Kodish 2 0-0 0. Totals 17 9-25 52.
Coatesville 5 8 18 14 – 45
Plymouth Whitemarsh 5 11 16 19 – 52
3-point goals: J.Bricuks, K.Brickus, Cooper, Williams, Paul 2.
Top Photo: Coatesville’s Jhamir Brickus (2) puts a shot past Plymouth Whitemarsh’s #15 Matt Walker (15) and #25 Ahmad Williams (25) in the fourth quarter of their game on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)