WEST GOSHEN — All basketball games have moments that change the complexion of the contest and have a big part in determining winers and losers.
Saturday afternoon at West Chester East High School, one of those moments happened and it was in the first half.
West Chester East jumped out to a seven-point second quarter lead over Great Valley and seemed to be in control of the game. Patriots coach Paul Girone then called a timeout with 4:23 to play in the period. Girone inserted Andrew Gal, who was not starting due to being sick for part of the week.
From there, things opened up for the rest of the Patriots as they scored 16 of the final 20 points of the half and went on to a decisive 49-35 nonleague win over the Vikings.
“Andrew had been sick but we put him in there and he hit a couple of 3-balls,’ Girone said. “And it opened things up for Will Buzan and Mark (Miller). They both hit three’s after that and we got going. We wanted them to come out and play us man-to-man and they did and we executed the offense real well after that. With Andrew in there we had shooters on both wings.’
West Chester East (3-6) never recovered after that despite the gallant efforts of Evan Anderson. The senior scored 27 points and single-handedly tried to will his undermanned team to the win.
“(Evan) is a very talented player and we tried to contain him,’ Buzan said. “But, he had a great game for them. The game plan was to try to hold him down but he still got his points. We started to get good looks for our three-pointers in the second period. We run a lot of back screens to get open looks for us and we knocked them down today.
“When Andrew came in we knew they would go to him because they were yelling ‘ shooter’ when he touched the ball and it really got things open for us down the lane and we executed our offense.’
Gal had three 3-pointers, Buzan added two and Mark Miller drained a three of his own as Great Valley rocketed out to a 28-20 lead early in the third period.
But, Anderson would not be denied.
The Vikings star drained a 3-pointer, got fouled and hit the free throw for a four-point play to make it a 28-24 game.
It looked like East had life.
But, Great Valley was just too balanced for the Vikings. Gal drained a 3-pointer from the corner and Miller scored on a driving layup as the Patiots built a comfortable 35-26 lead after three periods.
Great Valley pulled the ball out to start the final quarter, which the Vikings had to come out and play then Patriots man-to-man. Miller threaded his way to a 14 point night and Buzan led Great Valley (8-3) in scoring with 16. Gal added nine points and Andrew Wineinger had eight for the Pats. Great Valley shot 16-for-38 from the field for the game.
East never got closer than eight points in the final period. Winienger stole a pass and drove the floor for a layup to give the Patriots a 41-31 lead late in the quarter. All that was left was for Great Valley to hit some key free throws.
“We knew Anderson was the key for them so we tried to shut everybody else down,’ Miller said. “And we did a good job of that. Hitting three-point shots is a big part of our game and once they went man-to-man we felt good because we feel we can beat teams when they do that.’
The tough loss was hard for West Chester East coach Eric Anderson to talk about, but the veteran coach could only discuss that Great Valley timeout that seemed to change the outcome of the game.
“For the first 12 minutes of the 16 in the first half we did a great job,’ Anderson said. “We got out on their shooters, we passed the ball well. But then we relaxed and the entire complexion of the game changed. They got all the momentum.’