NEWTOWN SQUARE >> When Vinnie Kelly convened the Radnor huddle after the third quarter Friday night, he didn’t mince words.
Down five points at Marple Newtown, the senior guard put the directive, to himself and his teammates, in no uncertain terms.
“I told myself, ‘we’re not losing this game and I’ll do anything not to lose this game,’” Kelly said.
He backed up that talk on the court.
Kelly scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the fourth, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 1:31 to play in a 42-39 win.
It was only fitting that the decisive blow was delivered by Kelly. The Raiders trailed, 29-24, after three quarters, but evened the score 70 seconds into the frame after Jake Bodenger hit two free throws and Kelly absorbed some punishment in the lane on a jumper to complete a 3-point play.
The teams traded the lead, Marple surging ahead with 2:41 left when Marcus Weathers drove to the hole to make it 36-35.
That set up Kelly’s big moment. Michael Li missed a 3-pointer from the left wing, and the rebound pinnballed back to Li at the top of the key. He hit Kelly with a chest pass, and Kelly watched his 25-footer spin home from the left wing without a shadow of doubt in his mind.
“I wanted the ball,” Kelly said. “I was feeling it. Once I caught the ball, I knew I was going to shoot it. I knew it was going in, too.”
That confidence may seem misplaced given the general lack of offensive flow in this one. But shooting wasn’t the issue for Radnor (5-1, 3-1). Keeping two hands firmly on the basketball was.
Radnor committed 17 turnovers, 12 in the first half. The Raiders finished 4-for-8 from 3-point range and a respectable 13-for-29 from the field (44.8 percent). But entering the third quarter, they had attempted just six 3-pointers, that for a team averaging five makes per game this season.
Kelly’s line is a perfect example: He required just seven field-goal attempts to net 18 points. He hit five of those, including 3-for-4 from deep.
The paucity of shots was due in large part to Marple’s defensive aggression. Tuesday, the Tigers were victimized by eight 3-pointers in a loss to Springfield, so they opted for a proactive tack.
“We were just trying to turn it up,” Marple Newtown’s Cameron Mathes said. “The past three games, we weren’t playing that good. We had to work a lot harder. We knew that if we could get up on them, we could cause a lot of pressure and maybe get some points for us, too.”
Radnor’s antidote was less passivity in the fourth. Bodenger, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds, and Kelly set the tone, and Mason Ressler followed suit. As the teams traded baskets early in the frame, Ressler went to the rack for a lay-in, getting fouled, then drove to the hoop on the next trip at 5:15 to put Radnor up, 33-32.
“Fourth quarter, we were just trying to get the pace going to get back in the game and get stops,” said Ressler, who had just four points in a turnover-riddled outing. “I tried to be aggressive and attack.”
Christiana up and under. Marple up 31-29 https://t.co/j3w0QvH8Pc
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) December 19, 2015
The attack for Marple (1-5, 0-4), meanwhile, reflected the unsteadiness their young squad has contended with all season. A pair of 3-pointers each by Nick DiCamillo (seven points) and Mike Rutecki (nine) kept them in touch. Marcus Weathers and Mathes (a team-high seven rebounds) worked the glass for eight points each, but it took Weathers 11 shot attempts to amass that total.
The last possession epitomized the growing process, where the Tigers ran their offense for the final 14 seconds and could get only generate a DiCamillo heave that hit nothing but air.
“We didn’t really know who was going to take our last shot,” Mathes said. “We don’t really have that one dominant player. But we were just trying to work the ball around, and it didn’t really work out.”
As for Radnor, the fifth win of the season comes one shy of their total from last year. The third Central League victory eclipses the 2014-15 total.
Prevailing with a hard-nosed effort like this is an indication of how far they’ve come.
“I think we didn’t play very well,” Ressler said, “and I think it was good that we got the win because we played through hard times and we did whatever we could to get the win.”
Also in the Central League:
Strath Haven 63, Springfield 53 >> Alex Ischiropoulos scored 14 points, and each of the Panthers starting five contributed at least nine points to lead the effort.
Kyree Fuller check in with 12 points, and Jahmeir Springfield added 11 for Haven (5-1, 3-1).
Mason Liberty and Alex DeAngelis scored 11 points apiece for the Cougars (3-4, 1-3).
Ridley 58, Haverford 37 >> Brett Foster scored a game-high 22 points, and Julian Wing added 17 as the Green Raiders (6-0, 4-0) used a 22-9 margin in the third quarter to blow open a four-point halftime edge.
Connor Guilfoil canned three 3-pointers to lead Haverford (1-4, 1-3) with 15 points.
Garnet Valley 58, Upper Darby 46 >> Carl Tienabeso drained five triples to finish with 21 points, and Austin Laughlin added 19 as the Jags (4-2, 2-2) claimed the win.
Maurice Grier had another big game in the post with 21 points for Upper Darby (1-5, 0-4).
Penncrest 46, Harriton 29 >> Jimmy Carpenter deputized in the starting lineup with 12 points, and Peter Spiotta added six points and seven in making his first start as Penncrest (4-3, 2-2) coasted to the win.
In nonleague action:
Chichester 67, Cardinal O’Hara 51 >> Derrick Welles scored a game-high 22 points, and Eric Montanez did it all with 16 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists for the Eagles (3-3).
Jaye’Lyn Peebles (21 points) and Zakee Griffin (17) accounted for the bulk of O’Hara’s production.
In the Hill School Tournament:
Peddie School 68, Episcopal Academy 58 >> Nick Alikakos scored 35 points, but it wasn’t enough for EA (6-2), which slides into the consolation bracket against Episcopal High School of Virginia Saturday.
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