Methacton proves too much for Whitehall

ALLENTOWN — Down 9-6 after one quarter of play, Methacton boys basketball coach Jeff Derstine didn’t panic.

All season long, his Warriors’ high-tempo offense and pressure defense had plagued opponents, and it was only a matter of time until that game plan would start to disrupt District 11 runner-up Whitehall’s slow-it-down and possess offense.

Fortunately, for Methacton, it took only a quarter to change everything as the Warriors rode a 17-2 second quarter and a team-high 18 points from 6-foot, 6-inch senior forward Tom Dyer to hold off the Zephyrs, 47-39, on Saturday in PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball tournament action at William Allen High School.

“We came and just tried to speed them up a little bit,’ Derstine said. “I think the biggest thing is, I think, on the offensive end, we did a nice job of taking advantage of what we did. [The Zephyrs] run a really solid match-up zone defense, and we had to be patient. But we fought hard, found the open spots and got some easy looks. Then it was just a matter of us trying to create just a little more defensive pressure. When we did that it forced them to pick up the pace a little bit.

“But they are a very disciplined team; they play hard; and they really hurt us on the glass and got a number of second and third opportunities. I was proud, though, of how our guys fought for four quarters to close the game out and get a nice win.’

With the victory, Methacton (25-4) advances to the second round of the state tournament for the first time in school history and will meet Lancaster McCaskey, a 71-66 winner over District 1 champion Abington, on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

Dyer was key all over the floor for the Warriors on Saturday, but nowhere was it more evident than on the offensive end, where he accounted for eight of his team’s 17 second-quarter points.

While Whitehall focused its attention on Methacton’s leading scorers, Justin Ardman (13.8 points per game) and Chris McCarthy (13.5 ppg), Dyer was able to find openings and get looks on the offensive end that gave his team a 23-11 lead going into halftime.

Whitehall would get back into a bit of a rhythm in the third quarter and started things off with an 8-3 run, thanks in part to 6-6 senior center Brett Radocha who opened the period with three straight putbacks after a Chad Rex layup, to cut the deficit to 26-19. A jumper from McCarthy made it 28-19, and Radocha hit the second of a pair of free throws to make it 28-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

Dyer started off the period with a pair of layups to make it a 12-point game, 32-20, but a 7-1 Zephyrs’ run brought it back to seven at 34-27. That would be as close as Whitehall would get, though, as Methacton capitalized on its trips to the free-throw line down the stretch to hold on for the win.

“I think all five of our starters are able to do a lot of different things, and Tom [Dyer] can shoot the ball; he can score from inside; and he can get the job done on the defense, so he can do a little bit of everything,’ Derstine said. “That’s the cool thing about him. He is very unselfish and he doesn’t care if he scores 18 or 2 as long as we get the win. We’ve had games where he’s scored 20-plus and there’s games when he didn’t. He does whatever our team needs him to do.

“Tonight he just helped pick up where some of his teammates weren’t able to.’

Ardman finished the night with 11 points, while McCarthy and Sean Mann each added eight for the Warriors.

Radocha led all scorers with 21 points for Whitehall in the losing effort.

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