TOWAMENCIN >> Down around the basket, it’s Land of the Giants, as 6-foot-10 Abraham Deng and 6-foot-9 Marius Ntwari present a towering tandem that few opponents can cope with.
And then there’s Arion Lewis.
“He’s special,” Valley Forge Military Academy coach Francis Bowe said of his sleek, 6-foot-2 senior point guard. “He’s a special young man.”
Lewis kept finding ways to score, delivering a game-high 16 points, and Deng and Ntwari each added 11 as the Trojans overcame a tremendous effort by Dock Mennonite Academy Saturday afternoon to win 47-33 in a matchup of Bicentennial Athletic League and District 1 powers.
“Last night (in a win over Delco Christian), Arion had a huge game and only one of our bigs had a big game,” Bowe said. “Now, all three of them put it together, so it’s just really nice to see all three of them step up.
“The ball’s moving, we’re sharing it, and I just feel like we’re all picking each other up,” Bowe said. “When certain guys are down, other guys are stepping up, and that’s the sign of a good team.”
The Trojans improved to 12-2 on the season and are currently second in the BAL Independence Division. Valley Forge locked things down in the fourth quarter, not allowing a point that period until just a minute remained.
“Good size, good length,” Bowe said of the defense. “We played smarter. We cut off angles, we used our length to our advantage, and we’re blessed with size. It’s a benefit, but at the same time, using your IQ defensively is important for us also.”
Dock patiently worked the ball around early until a Jackson Scialanca three opened the scoring.
Valley Forge then responded with an 11-0 run.
Lewis was able to start driving to the basket, he dished to Ntwari in transition on another sequence, and Will Colleran got a three to rattle home to spike the margin to 11-3 Trojans.
Dock worked its way back into it, a three and a two by Nolan Bolton bringing things to 11-8 in the first quarter.
Another drive down the lane by Lewis extended the Valley Forge advantage to 13-8 after one.
Lewis began the second quarter with a scoop shot, getting it to drop to continue the Trojan push.
“My (outside) shot wasn’t falling today — it’s probably fatigue from last night, and I had a couple layups I should have made but overall I finished well,” Lewis said.
Ntwari started controlling things around the basket, scoring six points in the second quarter for the visitors.
Deng finished in transition, Lewis drove for two, and Ntwari stuffed home another basket to help make it a 27-15 lead at the break for Valley Forge.
Said Bowe of the early jump: “It’s one of those things where it’s kind of like a stress relief, because you’re not playing catch-up.”
Dock hangs in
The Pioneers (11-3), currently the top seed in District 1-2A, stayed close to the 3A power Trojans, beginning the third quarter with a turnaround jumper by Miz Nyagwegwe and a fast-break basket by Caleb Pfleiger to get within 10.
“They’re the best team we’ve played so far,” Pioneers coach Mike Fergus said of Valley Forge. “And (Lewis) is the best player in the league. The size those guys have, they’re a tough matchup.
“But I was proud of the way we played, especially defensively. We forced (17) turnovers, the guys played well. It is really hard to get a clean shot against (VF), because they rotate so well in their zone.”
Scialanca still managed to score 14 points, with Pfleiger adding 10.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” Fergus said. “These last three weeks (of the regular season), I wanna see us stay hungry and continue to get better.”
Trojans able to close out
Valley Forge took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter and held it tightly.
Fittingly, the first points came from the work by the defense, as Lewis intercepted a pass and took it all the way in, making it 39-28 with about four minutes to play.
Lewis later threw down low to Deng, who slammed it home for a fitting capper to the afternoon.
Postseason aspirations are beginning to provide motivation down the stretch run.
“Our goal is to win a state championship,” Lewis said. “We have a long way to go but that’s our goal.”