Downingtown West blows past Phoenixville to extend season

DOWNINGTOWN — Most would assume that Downingtown West’s boys basketball season would be over if they heard that Josh Warren was held to eight points in a District 1 Class AAAA playoff game. Especially with the Whippets facing elimination.

However the outcome could not have been any more contradictory.

The No. 10 Whippets coasted past No. 15 Phoenixville 67-44 on Friday night. Their victory sets up a survive and advance showdown for a berth in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs against Ches-Mont League rival Coatesville, a 57-55 winner over Chester, on Tuesday night.

Downingtown West (22-5) never looked back from the tipoff. They opened the game on a 13-0 run. No one was hotter than guard Ryan Betley, who scored nine of his 25 points in the opening frame.

“My teammates were finding me in open spots tonight. Fortunately I was able to hit those shots, and it worked out for us,’ Betley said.

West’s offense thrived in manhandling the Phantoms (19-8) on the boards. George Gordon and Dom Guerrera provided excellent second and third chance opportunities for their shooters.

“I love playing with this team because everyone is active,’ Gordon said. “We are an athletic team and all of our guys can rebound, and we can all give our teammates second chance shots.’

Gordon also finished second in scoring for West, with 13 points.

In the first quarter Warren appeared to bang up his left ankle. He remained in the game but it was obvious he was not completely healthy.

“Josh didn’t have his normal scoring game because he wasn’t at 100 percent tonight but he will be back to normal by Tuesday,’ Whippets coach Jason Ritter said.

Despite Warren’s uncharacteristically low scoring numbers, his teammates made it known that they have many different ways of punishing their opposition’s defense.

“It may be one person one night, but it can be someone else another night,’ Gordon said. “Everyone on this team can contribute. Everyone moves the ball really well, it’s a system.’

Ritter also chalked up their solid ball movement and aggressive rebounding.

“We knew we had a height advantage tonight,’ Ritter said. “We told the kids to go after it. That’s our philosophy. Second chance points are huge and for us and it was the difference tonight.’

After holding a 35-21 lead at halftime, they broke the score wide open in the second half. In the beginning of the third quarter, Betley stroked back-to-back 3-pointers, and ballooned their lead to 18 points.

“Ryan is the best shooter in the Ches-Mont League,’ Ritter said. “When he gets hot, we are a really tough team to beat.’

Their defense was equally as eye-widening. Phoenixville’s guard DeAndre Gadsden scored 18 points, but everyone else on the Phantoms was held in check.

“We had to come out hot,’ Betley said. “We didn’t want tonight to be our last game for our seniors. We want to play three, four, five more games left in the season. We are playing for them at this point.’

In the regular season, Downingtown West and Coatesville split their two meetings. With the season on the line, the Whippets could not be anymore excited to play a rubber match on their home hardwood.

“We beat them here and they beat us at their place. They will have some momentum. Coatesville is a very good team, and they are always going to want to beat us. They are our cross town rival,’ Gordon said.

“We have a great home crowd, we’re going to have a home game,’ Betley said. “Hopefully a lot of people will come out, and hopefully we can stay on a roll.’

Even though the PIAA playoffs are still a few weeks away, Ritter sees the schedule a little bit different.

“We won tonight, we feel good for Tuesday night, and that for us is a state tournament game. Whoever wins gets in.’

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