NEWTOWN – Try as it might, Council Rock North failed in its fourth-quarter comeback bid facing visiting Suburban One National League rival Pennsbury.
With 18 seconds left and trailing 42-39, the Indians forced the turnover they were seeking. The Rock entered the final frame behind 33-22 after Josh Arruda, a senior for the Falcons, canned a 3-pointer just before the third period buzzer.
“We were trying to set up for a three and the play kind of broke down,” said CR North senior Brady Haggerty. “Pennsbury played really good, defensively, on that last play.
“We were trying to get Matt (McAlister) to the hole and we were trying to set a screen to me at the corner if Matt didn’t have a layup.
“Credit to Pennsbury, they played great defense and prevented it.”
On the strength of three field goals by McAlister and three more including a 3-pointer by junior D.J. Mischak, the Indians staged a dramatic comeback attempt only to come up short.
“He’s been making plays for us all year and he really stepped up for us,” said Haggerty, of the performance by Mischak. “It really showed in the fourth quarter.”
Mischak – who canned a pair of floaters earlier in the period – could not get his last shot through the rim with eight ticks left on the game clock.
“We were a lot more aggressive offensively in the fourth quarter,” said Haggerty. “We started picking up our pressure and locking down our defensive rotations.
“We started making physical plays on offense, which led to a couple buckets and steals.”
The end result however was a 43-39 loss for the Rock, which fell to 3-7, overall, 1-4 in the SOL National Conference.
“I would be more concerned if we weren’t competing,” said CR North head coach Jesse Krasna. “But I think our guys are playing with a lot of energy and a lot of toughness.”
“We’re close, we’re right there and I’m encouraged and I think the guys sense it too.
“It’s just a matter of trying to improve a little bit each day and if we do that, we’re going to be OK by the end of the season.”
Coming off a 51-34 win over CR South, the Falcons improved to 6-5, overall, 2-2 in the SOL.
Haggerty led Rock with 11 points and McAlister added nine, six of which came in the final frame.
“Matt’s a great player and he’s been working really hard,” stated Haggerty. “His hard work has paid off as was seen in the fourth quarter when he was making a lot of shots.”
Mischak chipped in with 7 points, all of which was tallied in the fourth quarter. Josh Fisher contributed six points, registered on a pair of 3-pointers in the second period.
The Indians canned a half-dozen field goals in the final frame but only eight before that. Turnovers put a serious dent in the Rock’s cause. North committed 20 of them in this game.
“We weren’t moving the ball around really well and we were turning the ball over a lot – which is really uncharacteristic of us,” said Haggerty. “In the fourth quarter, we started playing a little more urgent. We started setting some harder screens, which got us some more buckets and we got on the offensive glass, as well.”
It’s been a tough season so far for Council Rock. The Indians started off with a 4-point loss to CB South then lost to CB West by three points in overtime. A win over Upper Dublin ensued but North lost by the slimmest of margins to SOL National rival Truman before splitting a pair in its holiday tournament at Unionville.
The Indians started the new year with a comeback win over Bensalem before falling by 14 to Neshaminy, which canned 11 three-pointers in the game.
“Losses are always difficult to take, whether it’s a big loss or a small loss,” explained Haggerty. “But we’ve shown that we can play with these teams. We just have to make a couple plays early in the game that will help us down the stretch and push us over the edge.”
Pennsbury senior Raylil Winton led the Falcons’ cause with a dozen points, seven of which he canned in the first period when the visitors got out to an early 12-5 lead.
“He’s a kid that plays with a lot of fire and has a lot of talent – he can shoot and he can get to the rim,” stated Krasna. “He also is kind of Pennsbury’s emotional leader and he’s a guy we knew we had to key on.”
“I thought our guys did a nice job on him, defensively, but he makes big plays.”
While Winton was shut out in the last two quarters, junior Gary Francis and Arruda exploded for 18 points after the break. The duo combined on four treys in the second half and Francis hit three shots from the floor in the third period.
Pennsbury scored 16 points off turnovers though they also lost possession of the rock 15 times in the game.
Next, CR North travels to Springfield to face the Spartans at noon Saturday as part of the SOL Challenge tournament. Pennsbury will face CB East at 2 p.m. Saturday on the Patriots’ home court.
Pennsbury 43, Council Rock North 39
(Jan. 11 at CR North)
PENNSBURY 12 8 13 10 – 43
CR NORTH 7 11 4 17 – 39
Pennsbury (6-5, 2-2: SOL) — Collin Connor 6, Chad Weldon 4, Raylil Winton 12, Josh Arruda 8, Gary Francis 11 Jake Martell 2; TOTALS — 13 10-13–43.
CR North (3-7, 1-4: SOL) — Brady Haggerty 11, Justin Walton 2, James Duffy 2, Matt McAlister 9, Josh Fisher 6, Angad Ahluwalia 2, D.J. Mischak 7, Harry Wyatt 0; TOTALS — 14 7-11–39.