Glen Mills comes back with Lyons roar

THORNBURY — With the music at Glen Mills’ raucous arena hushed between songs at the end of the first quarter, just about everyone in attendance could hear coach Tony Bacon upbraid his team for a lackadaisical start.

After three quarters, Bacon’s message was even louder, audible over the blaring tunes and boisterous fans whipped up to a frenzy. The content couldn’t have been more different, though.

Bacon was quick to praise his team after a come-from-behind 67-51 win over No. 6 seed Bishop Shanahan in the District One Class AAA quarterfinals Monday night.

The win sends the No. 3 Battlin’ Bulls (17-6) into Wednesday’s semifinal against No. 2 Lower Moreland, an 89-69 winner over No. 7 Pope John Paul II Monday. The game for a berth in the PIAA Tournament will tip at Harriton High at 6.

The 32-minute journey to that final was anything but as comfortable as the spread would indicate. Shanahan started with a hot shooting touch, running out to a 29-14 lead early in the second quarter and confining Glen Mills big man Anthony Johnson to the bench with two flimsy fouls near the hoop. But Glen Mills roared back, turning up the heat with a full-court press that forced 16 turnovers and trimmed a double-digit deficit to five at halftime. Over the game’s final 20 minutes, Glen Mills outscored its opponent, 53-22.

Epitomizing that turnaround was Tyrique Lyons. The recent JV callup was playing just his third game of the season, thrust into the starting lineup for the first time after Mills’ second-leading scorer, Tyreek Brickus, was discharged from the school last week.

Lyons’ start was inauspicious to say the least, missing his first four looks from the field, including three air-balled 3-pointers. But Lyons rebounded to finish with 16 points, including eight vital points in a third quarter where Glen Mills outscored Shanahan, 24-8, to assumed control.

“When I have a start like that, in my head I’m thinking, ‘ I’m not going to miss all my 3-pointers,” Lyons said. “I just keep on shooting. A good shooter keeps on shooting until he makes his shot, and that’s what I kept doing.’

“I’m happy for him and proud of him, because the way he started out, probably your average young man as a basketball player would get dejected when his first three shots didn’t touch anything,’ Bacon said. “I took him out and talked to him and said, ‘ Relax, it’s a game of basketball. It’s something you enjoy, something you have fun with.’ …

“I think his confidence, once he saw that first medium-range shot that went in, you could just see the little bounce in his step and confidence came back that quick.’

Lyons hit his next three looks from 3-point land. His triple with five minutes left in the third quarter put Glen Mills up 38-36, its first lead since 4-2, and was part of a 13-3 spurt to start the second half.

While Lyons stepped up in the third, the Battlin’ Bulls wouldn’t have been in that position if not for the stabilizing presence of point guard Khyzeem Brown.

Trailing 21-10 after one quarter and looking every bit like a team that hadn’t played in 17 days, the only thing working for Glen Mills was Johnson, who had seven of those points. When he sat with 4:44 left in the half with two fouls, Glen Mills was left needing a spark.

They got it from Brown.

“I just had to believe in my team,’ said Brown, who scored 10 points to go with seven rebounds, eight assists and five steals. “We work hard at practice and we go over situations like this. Coach just told me, ‘ think positive. Don’t think about the negative.’ I knew we were down, but I just had to keep getting my team good looks.’

The press turned Shanahan over six times in the second quarter, and a Lyons triple sent the teams to the locker room with Shanahan leading, 33-28. It was the single-digits deficit that Bacon was hoping for.

Shanahan’s Pat Corcoran was unconscious in the first half, going 6-for-7 from the field (including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc) to score 18 points.

“We just came in with a lot of energy,’ Corcoran said. “It’s an awesome atmosphere that they bring here, and we were confident going into this game.’

That energy evaporated in the face of Glen Mills’ suffocating press. Joe Lord hit two of his four 3-pointers in the third quarter to finish with 14 points and briefly keep Shanahan within striking distance, but all the energy they expended getting the ball over halfcourt left them spent.

“It was a really fast-paced press, tough to handle,’ said Corcoran, who had just one point in the second half. “We had to look opposite. It took us a little while to adjust. Great job by them to put the pressure on.’

“It’s important to speed them up because it gets them scared,’ Lyons said. “They’re under a lot of pressure and they don’t know where to throw the ball.’

Johnson stayed on the court throughout the second half, dominating the paint with 17 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. Steven Welsh supplied 13 points for Glen Mills, including a 3-pointer that put them up 15 with less than two minutes left to effectively seal it.

But it was Lyons for whom Bacon reserved the highest praise.

“What he did tonight didn’t really surprise me,’ Bacon said. “I know that’s in him because I watch him in practice every day. It’s just taking it from practice into a game and doing it with confidence.’

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