Methacton handles Phoenixville for third time to earn PIAA berth, District 1-AAAA quarterfinal spot

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — There was no need for a momentous fourth-quarter run Tuesday.

No, for Methacton, no dramatic flurry was needed.

Tom Dyer, Sean Mann and Chris McCarthy all scored in double-figures while Methacton controlled the tempo and the game throughout as the Warriors came away with a 64-54 victory over PAC-10 foe Phoenixville in the second round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs.

The win punches Methacton’s PIAA ticket for the second time in three seasons. Methacton (12-1 PAC-10, 23-3 overall) will face the winner of No. 7 Pennsbury and No. 10 Downingtown West in the district quarterfinals Friday. Pennsbury and Downingtown West will play Wednesday night due to a snow postponement.

“It’s awesome (to make states),’ McCarthy said. “It’s a great honor. We have more to do, we want to do much more but this is a good start for us.’

McCarthy and Mann paced the team with 17 points apiece while Tom Dyer made his presence felt beyond the arc in the first half, hitting for nine of his 16 points on three 3-pointers as the Warriors exposed Phoenixville’s zone defense early on.

“It was good that I was able to hit those shots to give our team confidence at the beginning of the game to carry us through,’ Dyer said. “We knew coming in that they were going to play zone because we have been struggling against zone a little bit all year. But we worked hard practicing it and it paid off during the game.’The win marked the third time Methacton has topped Phoenixville this season. The Warriors recently topped the Phantoms in the PAC-10 semifinals, utilizing a 10-0 fourth-quarter run to put them away en route to their title run. Methacton’s TJ Tornetta was a key catalyst to keeping Phoenixville leading scorer Christian Kelly to a season-low nine points in the loss.

But Tuesday, there was no need for a momentous fourth-quarter run as the Warriors kept the Phantoms at bay after seeing a 9-0 game-opening run nearly dissipate. The Warriors never trailed in the game and built leads of 12 points four times, all coming despite the double-digit efforts of the Phantoms’ Christian Kelly, Marquise McDuffee and DeAndre Gadsden.

“They’re really, really dangerous and I’m proud of how our guys took the challenge and I thought we came out with the right mindset,’ Methacton head coach Jeff Derstine said. “I thought we played really, really hard for four quarters and battled. They made a couple little runs but we were able to answer each of those and made some big plays.’

“They’re just so good all the way around,’ Phoenixville head coach Eric Burnett said of Methacton. “Their size, it’s tough to match up. They crash the glass and obviously not having Jeff Conboy tonight was really tough, he’s battling a hamstring issue. But it was a great experience to have a sophomore like Avery Close and other sophomores like Shyheim Abernathy and Nasir Green coming into the game. It’s only going to pay off in the long run.’

The loss drops Phoenixville (10-3, 18-7) into the playback round for the No. 9 and No. 10 seed. The Phantoms will face the loser of the aforementioned Pennsbury and Downingtown West matchup Saturday, but the game could be moved up to Friday if both team’s agree on the schedule change.

“I’ve been telling the boys all along to embrace this ride that we’ve been on because we’re a young team, we only have two seniors (Gadsden and Mike Anthony),’ Burnett said. “They’re enjoying it. They’re going to keep fighting and hopefully we can end up in the same tournament (PIAA with Methacton).’

The Phantoms’ fight showed early.

Kelly bounced back from his nine-point effort in the teams’ last meeting to score 19 points while McDuffee and Gadsden added 16 and 12, respectively. Playing without Conboy, the Phantoms kept it close early on, coming back from a 9-0 deficit in the game’s opening minutes to make it 9-8 with the help of buckets from Anthony, Kelly and Gadsden.

“All along in these last handful of games we’ve been talking about handling the first four minutes,’ Burnett said. “Coming out they hit a couple of threes but we stuck to the game plan and just handled the emotions and the nerves of the game. They’ve never played in a game like this. I’m just beyond proud of my team for standing up.’

However, after a huge second quarter from Methacton’s McCarthy (six points) and a Dyer 3-pointer near the halftime buzzer, the Warriors built a 32-23 halftime lead.

From there on out, the Phantoms couldn’t bring the deficit to less than six. Kelly, Gadsden and McDuffee’s efforts in the second half were outmatched by the senior-laden Methacton squad with the Warriors building a 12-point lead after three before keeping the game at a double-digit level for the entire fourth. Tornetta scored four of his nine points in the final quarter.

“We came in knowing that they would make some adjustments,’ Derstine said. “We thought that they’d pressure us a bit more than the zone look. Our guys came out ready to shoot the ball.’

“I’m proud of how our guys finished it out and I’m excited about the opportunity to go to states and try and advance and keep moving in the districts.’

NOTES — He didn’t have any points on the scoresheet but Methacton’s Patrick O’Neill made himself stand out in the first quarter, hauling down two offensive rebounds in the same offensive possession that helped spring a 6-0 run in the quarter. “He’s understanding of our offense, he cuts hard, he finds the open spaces,’ Derstine said of the sophomore. “He’s a good passer and is a real solid man-to-man defensive player so he’ll put pressure on the guards and keep his guy in front of him and make it tough for him. He’s been solid for us all year. The points, like I said, aren’t jumping out but he’s doing a lot of the little things.’ … Justin Ardman finished with five points in the win while McCarthy finished with 11 rebounds. … Close finished with a team-high seven rebounds for Phoenixville.

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