Methacton bows out in second round of states to McCaskey

NEW HOLLAND — Methacton’s Tom Dyer and Justin Ardman slogged their way out of the locker room and down the hallway separating it from the main lobby.

Sean Mann, T.J. Tornetta and Chris McCarthy followed shortly thereafter, looking drained as they filtered into the main lobby in search of their family and friends.

“Well, they say all good things must come to an end,’ the senior Dyer imparted before making his way to find his family.

It was an unspectacular end to an otherwise spectacular season.

Mann and Tornetta paced Methacton with double-digit nights but the Warriors couldn’t ride the momentum from a torrid first-quarter shooting effort en route to a 65-52 loss to District 3’s J.P. McCaskey in the PIAA-AAAA second round Wednesday night at Garden Spot High School.

The loss ends a historic season and the careers of seniors Mann, Tornetta, McCarthy, Ardman, Dyer, Erik Marberger and Derrick Ellis. The group of seven, which had been playing together since their recreation league days for Audubon since age 8, won the school’s first PAC-10 Championship in three years and advanced to the PIAA-AAAA second round for the first time in school history.

It was a ride that Ardman and others won’t forget.

“It was a good ride,’ Ardman said. “I loved playing with these guys, It’s sad that it ended tonight but every team finishes its season with a loss, except for one. It was definitely a season to remember.”I enjoyed every moment of playing with these guys,’ Dyer added.

Methacton’s unspectacular demise came at the hands of a spectacular effort from McCaskey’s Kobe Gantz. The junior sprung for a season-high 32 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Red Tornadoes to a quarterfinal date with La Salle College High School, a 62-40 winner over Abington Heights.

Gantz was a key player in the Red Tornadoes’ resurgence from a 22-14 deficit after the first quarter, scoring seven of the team’s 16 points in the second quarter before hitting the go-ahead bucket moments into the third quarter.

McCaskey never looked back.

Complemented by the scoring and defensive efforts from La’Detrius Sibley and Randolph Speller, who had 12 and 10 points, respectively, the Red Tornadoes outscored Methacton 35-19 in the game’s final 16 minutes, building a lead as high as 13 before Gantz’s two-handed slam with a minute remaining in the fourth capped off the dominating second-half effort and ignited the widely pro-McCaskey crowd.

Methacton coach Jeff Derstine credited the momentous swing to McCaskey’s switch to a man-to-man defense and its ability to get second chances off the glass.

“I think we knew coming in that they were a great offensive rebounding team and they could get out and pressure us,’ Derstine said. “I give them a lot of credit for getting those second, third and fourth opportunities.

“We forced them to take some tough shots but they got those extra opportunities and that killed us.’

In all, it spoiled otherwise solid efforts from Mann and Tornetta.

Mann finished with a team-high 19 points while Tornetta chipped in 14 as the duo were key components to the team’s 11-0 run to start the game, prompting a quick McCaskey timeout.

However, the spectacular start yielded an unspectacular finish.

Methacton’s 22-14 lead was whittled down to 33-30 at the half before McCaskey, led by four points from Gantz and three apiece from Sibley and Speller, took a 41-39 lead entering the fourth.

From there it unraveled.

Gantz was unstoppable, either from the floor or from the foul line, as he scored the team’s first 14 points in the final frame, including a critical 3-pointer from the right corner after Mann had tied the game at 43. Gantz showed his athleticism on defense as well, coming out from the foul line on two occasions to block 3-pointers, one from Mann, the other from Tornetta. His aforementioned two-hand slam capped off his night, and Methacton’s season.

“I don’t want this game to take away from what our kids accomplished,’ Derstine said. “I’m proud of all they did. Our senior group has been fully committed for four years. They worked really hard, they put the time in, had a love for the game and good things happened.’Accomplishments that won’t be smeared by Wednesday’s loss.

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