Doyle hopes familiarity favors Penncrest

Mike Doyle has been coaching long enough to see both sides of the coin for his team’s second-round matchup in the District One Class AAAA Tournament.

On the one hand, the preparation for Doyle’s No. 28 seed Penncrest team isn’t as vast against Lower Merion, a team Doyle reckons they’ve played five times in the last seven postseasons, including the second round of districts in 2013 and first round in 2012. But the flip side is that against the No. 12 Aces, Doyle will have to orchestrate a more nuanced approach, owing to the fact that both teams know each other so well.

“As far as my team and the Dawg Pound, we’re very excited to play a familiar opponent,’ Doyle said Monday. “Sometimes, being honest though, it’s better to play someone who doesn’t know you that well, who doesn’t know all your tricks. It’s all on the table with us, and we know what each other wants to do. It’s pretty straightforward.’

The Lions and Aces met just once this season, a 54-42 win at Lower Merion Dec. 9. The teams that convene Tuesday night at 7 at Lower Merion will be much different than those squads, but Doyle sees value in that game film. When all else fails, as it often can on the offensive end, such games provide glimpses of what the Aces are all about.

What Lower Merion (15-9) boils down to are two primary scorers in 3-point shooter Corey Sherman and power forward Jule Brown. The Aces have a couple of guys in KJ Helton and Steve Pendleton who can get to the basket, but as Ridley illustrated in the Central League semifinals, if you mute one or both of the main threats, their remaining offensive options are conquerable. They also looked plenty beatable in the opening round, when No. 21 seed Council Rock North gave them all they could handle in an ugly 38-37 win.

Penncrest, meanwhile, comes in with a different feeling. The Lions (14-9) gutted out an overtime victory over No. 5 seed Penn Wood last Friday, 56-53. Their approach defensively to limiting all the non-Malik Jackson Patriots to just 22 points is applicable to trying to mute a team like Lower Merion. The younger Mike Doyle had 22 points in that game, while a host of players in the low post contributed big baskets.

“They’re going to want to bring pressure and try to up-tempo us,’ Doyle said. “And our thing is that we just went against one of best teams in District One at playing up-tempo and trying to get us out of our game. We feel pretty good about that. To have such a high-level opponent, and now another one, that’s a big factor.’

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