Truman boys basketball felled by hot-shooting Upper Moreland

WILLOW GROVE – On another night, 61 points might have been enough for the visiting Truman boys basketball team to go home with a victory.

Not this one, however.

Suburban One American League rival Upper Moreland shot the lights out of the ball Dec. 16 on its home court with starters Shane Stone (25 pts.), Damian Washington (18) and Brendan O’Donnell (11) combining to score 54 of the Golden Bears’ points in a 74-61 loss suffered by the Tigers.

The loss drops Truman to 2-3 overall, 1-1 in the SOL National Conference while Upper Moreland pushed to 4-2 overall, 1-1 in their league.

Washington, a 6-5 junior for the Bears, hit a half-dozen three-pointers and was 6-for-7 from behind the arch. Four of his treys came in the first half, helping to stake the home team to a 36-14 edge by the halftime intermission.

“They were just on,” said Tigers senior captain Maurice Jackson Jr. “Every team has that one game where they just don’t miss and we were just the other team that turned out to be on the bad end of that.”

“They were the hot team tonight; they just kept hitting them.”

Especially at the beginning of each period. After seeing Upper Moreland begin the game with an 11-2 run, Truman bounced back and trailed just 16-10 at the end of the first period.

But then Stone hit a jumper followed by a wide open layup then Washington hit his third 3-pointer and all of a sudden, the gap had grown to 13.

Twice, the Tigers cut the deficit to eight points late in the second period, first on a three-point play by junior forward Danell Snelling – who led Truman’s effort with 16 points – and then on a putback by point guard Kelechi Ogbonna (10 pts.).

Suddenly, UM senior Brendan O’Donnell (11 pts.), who hadn’t registered a point in the game until then, broke loose for a pair of driving layups while adding a pair of free throws, staking his team to a 36-24 lead at the break.

“We just gotta play better ‘D,’” admitted Jackson. “We just played a little bit too lax and we can’t have that.

“We weren’t very focused before the game and it definitely showed on the court.”

As if the scoring runs mounted by the Bears in the first half weren’t large enough, Upper Moreland returned from the locker room after the break to register a 14-2 spurt that put the home team on top, 50-26.

While the Tigers – with help from a pair of 3-pointers by Ogbonna – outpaced the Bears 13-9 throughout the remainder of the third period, they trailed Upper Moreland 59-39 heading into the final frame. One of those treys, a bucket by senior forward Justin Fant and an easy layup by Clowney came in transition off of steals in the defensive end.

“It’s definitely true that the best offense is a good defense,” stated Jackson. “I think that’s just what we have to do. We have to play a lot better defense to get some easier shots on offense and that’s just the way we have to play for the rest of the season.”

The Bears entered the game coming off a 48-46 win over American Conference rival Wissahickon the night before on the Trojans’ home court. Ahead by six at the half, UM allowed Wissahickon to climb back into the game, making the battle a 1-point affair by the end of the third period.

Bears head coach Matt Heiland did not want to see that happen two nights in a row however, so he encouraged his team to come out strong in the second half.

“I said ‘guys, it’s close so let’s jump on them and see if we can put this game away and see how they react to that,’” said Heiland. “We got up big and we continued to play well.”

Did they ever!

Just like they kicked off every other period, UM began the final frame with a scoring run, the last a 14-5 spurt that put the home team on top 73-44. Ahead by 29 with only minutes to go, the only thing undecided in this one was the final margin.

Stone hit three of those shots from the floor in the first half of the fourth quarter.

“Shane has really come a long way,” explained Heiland “He was an out-of-control kid last year on the court; he could only play a few minutes here and there because he got into foul trouble and he didn’t really grasp the offense.

“But between him and Washington in the offseason, they put a ton of hours in this gym and have developed into players that we can count on to be some of our top scorers.”

“If Shane is going to shoot the ball like that, we’re going to be a difficult team to beat.”

A big difference in this game was the patience exercised by Upper Moreland versus that of the visitors.

“There’s been a couple games where we’ve waited for the right opportunities but there’s a lot of times where we just come down the court and throw it up,” said Jackson.

“We have to learn how to slow it down and get the ball to the basket.”

Truman finished the game strong, mounting a 17-1 run that made the game appear closer than it really was. In the closing minutes, the Tigers received a spark from senior Khalil Trammell, who hit for seven points in the fourth quarter, and classmate Thomas Ceriquino, who added five points in the final frame.

Truman entered the season without the services of 2014-15 starters Jaier Brown, a point guard, along with forwards Tyquan Law and Tramiere Adams. Jackson and Clowney now play in the front court while Ogbonna has replaced Brown at the point.

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Upper Moreland 74, Harry S Truman 61

(Dec. 16 at Upper Moreland)

Upper Moreland 16 20 23 15 – 74

Truman                    10 14 15 22 – 61

TRUMAN — James Clowney 11, Thomas Ceriquino 5, Hamilton 3, Jeff Nixon 1, Khalil Trammell 7, Danell Snelling 16, Justin Fant 2, Kelechi Ogbonna 10, Maurice Jackson Jr. 4, Z.J. Jackson 2; TOTALS: 24 9-14 61.

3-POINT GOALS — Ogbonna 2, Hamilton, Trammell.

UPPER MORELAND — Damian Washington 18, Shane Stone 25, Brendan O’Donnell 11, Mike Lyons 3, Casey Decker 4, Ryan Coyle 7, Brett Brossman 2, Christian O’Donnell 2; TOTALS: 25 17-19 74.

3-POINT GOALS — Washington 6, O’Donnell.

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