LONDON GROVE – West Chester Henderson boys basketball coach Chris Bruno calls senior swingman Colin Costello one of the most underrated players in the Ches-Mont League. Costello’s game is far from flashy, predicated on unselfish play and a willingness to do the little things in lieu of producing big scoring numbers.
“He’s probably that unsung hero, because he fills the stat sheet,’ Bruno said. “He’s probably the most unselfish player I’ve ever seen. He’s going to make sure everyone is successful, not just himself. We couldn’t be more proud of all our guys, and it all starts with Colin.’
After helping the Warriors pass another road test Thursday at Avon Grove, it would be foolish not to give Costello his due.
Costello stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, six steals, four assists, and a blocked shot, guiding the Warriors to a 52-44 victory over a game Avon Grove squad in the Ches-Mont opener for both schools. While senior shooting guard Wesley Smith stole the show in the first half, Costello was the Warriors’ constant, making an impact on both ends of the floor and helping them keep the scrappy Red Devils at arm’s length.
“I try to do all of that stuff — rebound, pass, shoot when I have to,’ Costello said. “I definitely like to play defense and block shots, too.’
Costello was effective throughout, but it was Smith and fellow senior Andy Vermeil who staked the experienced Warriors (3-1, 1-0) to a big first-half advantage. Smith scored 14 of his game-high 16 points and Vermeil drained a trio of three-pointers in the first 16 minutes as Henderson opened up a 16-7 lead after one quarter and led by as many as 17 midway through the second. The Warriors hit seven treys in the first half, including triples on back-to-back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, when Vermeil drained the first two and Tyler Ramirez the third as the visitors silenced the home crowd with a 29-12 lead.
Henderson took a 34-18 lead into intermission and led 39-20 early in the third quarter after Costello dished off to Vermeil (13 points) for an easy layup in transition. But the Red Devils (0-3, 0-1) refused to go quietly, cutting the deficit to single digits on a triple by J.B. Patrison that made it 43-35 with 4:20 to play. Avon Grove got as close as 46-41 on a long ball by Brandon McCullogh with 48 seconds left, but Costello, who made all five of his foul shots, answered with a pair of free throws and Smith scored on the break after an empty Red Devil possession to put the game on ice.
The Warriors won their third straight game of a young season in which they have yet to play at home. They extended their winning streak in the series to 12 straight games.
Three of the previous five meetings before Thursday’s contest were decided by separated by four points or fewer.
“This is game number four, and they’ve all been on the road,’ Chris Bruno said. “This has historically been a tough gym to play in, and those guys don’t know the meaning of the word ‘ quit.’
“We’ve had some tough matchups in this gym, and we’ve been fortunate to win the last three.’
Senior center Quin Parson finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Red Devils.
He was active on the glass and showed off tremendous athleticism on a nasty put-back jam in the first quarter. Avon Grove hit five of its seven three-pointers in the second half as the Warriors condensed their defense in an effort to corral Parson, and the hosts outscored Henderson 26-18 after halftime. However, 14 turnovers undid the Red Devils’ comeback attempt, with Costello logging most of his steals off simple inbounds passes.
“We came out and knocked down some outside shots when they started packing it in on (Parsons),’ Riale said. “We just need to come up with a better inbounds play,’ he added with a laugh. “They hit a lot of threes, but I scouted them before and knew they were going to do that.They’re a tough team, and they’re going to be in everything. We stuck in there and I’m proud of the
kids for that.’
Patrison finished with 11 points and five boards for the Red Devils, and Mike Deitz contributed eight points and four rebounds.
Smith added a team-best eight rebounds to his 16 points for the Warriors. Jason Bady chipped in eight points, three rebounds, and three steals, while Ramirez handed out four assists in addition to his five points.
As much as the Warriors would like to play a game at home, they’ll have to wait a little longer. A date with undefeated Octorara awaits on Saturday.
“It should be a good game,’ Costello said. “They’re a really good team; I don’t think they’ve lost yet, so that should be a really good test.’