Pottstown handles Upper Perkiomen, 77-51

POTTSTOWN >> Coming into the season, Pottstown coach Cal Benfield’s crystal ball was partly cloudy with periods of sunshine possibly breaking through.

Most of his roster consisted of mostly seniors, yet few players returned with significant varsity experience. He had some good athletes, but how well would they jell?

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Benfield said.

A four-point loss recently to always tough PAC-10 rival Pottsgrove (62-58) brought optimism. It also raised the bar. Pottstown didn’t play as well Friday night as Benfield expected, but the host Trojans did quite enough to put away Upper Perkiomen, 77-51.

“We’re still learning, trying to figure out who we are,” Benfield said. “I can’t say I’m pleased about tonight. I expected a better effort, and Upper Perk played extremely well.

“We made a good effort against a really good Pottsgrove team, so we expected a little bit more from our kids tonight.”

Benfield pointed to the Trojans’ 14 turnovers and 6-of-15 showing from the foul line. There were, however, numerous plusses.  Pottstown’s full-court pressure defense and transition offense quickly took ownership of the game.

Seniors Cory Hall (18 points) and Shamir Edwards (13) and junior Malik Brown (13) led the way. Each attacked the basket, getting into the lane whether it was a fast break or a half-court set. Freshman Anthony Brown scored 12 off the bench for the Trojans.

Said Benfield of Hall: “We’re a transition team and that’s his thing. He’s very long and he can get to the basket.”

Edwards, a 6-2 guard, was excellent with his floor leadership as well.

“He’s a very good leader, a very good young man, keeps people together,” Benfield said. “We’re real happy with Shamir.”

Pottstown, 8-14 overall last season and 5-8 in the conference, won its first game this year to improve to 1-3 and 1-1 in the PAC-10. Upper Perk is 1-4 and 0-2. The Indians’ talented sophomore forward, Ryan Kendra, was impressive, displaying an inside and outside game while being targeted defensively as the Indians’ top threat. He scored 18, including 11 of the Indians’ 14 in the first quarter, which Pottstown ended up leading by nine.

Pottstown controlled the backboards and ran at every opportunity. The Trojans started putting the pedal to the medal at the outset of the second quarter, when a putback by Edwards, a layup by Malik Brown and a fastbreak bucket by Hall swelled the advantage to 15.

Another flurry, with Larry Wingo and Hall combining on a 10-4 run, made it 43-19 deep in the second quarter. A reverse layup and nice fastbreak finish by Kendra put the halftime score at 43-25. Hall scored 12 in the second quarter.

Edwards opened the third period with a fastbreak hoop and a follow shot. That put the lead at 20 and the Trojans wouldn’t allow the Indians to retrieve any momentum.  Anthony Brown sparkled in the fourth when he scored 10 points.

“We’re very pleased with him,” Benfield said. “He’s gifted.”

Christian Zera had 13 points for Upper Perkiomen, including seven in the third period, and Ryan Sitko added 12. For Pottstown, Wingo scored nine in support of the four double-figure scorers, and eight Trojans scored.

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