BENSALEM – Maybe it was all those 3-pointers poured into the basket by the Owls in the first period. Maybe it was a deficit that never seemed to dip below double digits. Maybe it was injuries to a pair of the Bristol starters. Either way, it took the Warriors out of their game as the host Bensalem crushed Bristol 69-48 Monday night, Dec. 28 in the opening round of the Dick Dougherty Tournament.
The Warriors face DelCo Christian at 6 p.m. today in a consolation matchup with the Owls, at 7:30 p.m., taking on Philly Public League rival Northeast, a 60-59 winner over DelCo.
Some hot shooting by Bensalem – especially in the first period when the hosts drained five 3-pointers including two by junior Brian Quarterman (13 pts.) who torched Bristol for 10 of 24 first-quarter points registered by the Owls – put the home team up 24-10 heading into the second period.
“Our philosophy is if (the shot) is open, take it,” said Owls head coach Mike McCabe. “We haven’t been getting inside as much so we’ve been working the ball and moving it around, getting open looks.
“I tell the kids all the time, ‘if it’s open, take it.’ We were lucky we were hot tonight.”
The Warriors fared better in the second period and even outscored the hosts in the third. In the end, hampered by injuries to sophomore Carter Kelley and junior Ronnie Garrison who did not play the last three quarters, Bristol turned the ball over a bunch more in the final frame and fell hard.
A 10-3 run registered by Warriors senior standout Deonte Harris finally cut Bensalem’s lead to single digits 3-and-a-half minutes into the third period. However, the hosts gathered themselves after a timeout and posted a 10-3 run of their own, stretching the Owls’ lead back to 15 points with two minutes remaining in the quarter.
“It seemed every time we got close, we tried to play their way of basketball instead of ours,” stated Bristol head coach Matt Gasper. “And that up-tempo style – it’s not our style. I don’t know why we keep going back to it.
“We just threw the ball around and it allowed them to open the lead up.
“We can’t play like that.”
Six Warrior turnovers to start the final frame led to a 12-0 Bensalem scoring run putting the Owls on top 66-42 with just a few minutes remaining in the contest.
“When two of our starters got hurt, it put a lot on the bench. I realize they got tired and that’s when they started making a lot of mental mistakes. That contributed to a lack of bench production.
“We had a short bench with kids getting hurt but that’s no excuse for the way they played.”
Credit the opponent as well; Bensalem shot the lights out of the ball in this one, reaching double digits in every quarter. The Owls leading scorer Ward Roberts (21 pts.) struck for eight points in the first period including a pair of 3-pointers and he poured eight more into the basket on four shots from the floor in the final frame.
Bensalem senior Rich Dean tallied eight of his 13 points in the second period on four field goals and junior B.J. Jones tallied all five of his points in the second period, helping the hosts to a 39-24 halftime edge.
Defensively, the Owls pressured Bristol on both ends of the court all game long.
“We’ve been struggling but I thought we came out with a lot of energy tonight,” said McCabe.
“We’ve been working our press and working our defense and that was the game plan tonight – to come out and go after them and see how they handled our pressure.”
According to Gasper, the Warriors handled that pressure two different ways.
“We beat the press every single time when we did it the right way,” explained the coach. ““We got the ball in the middle, turned and faced for a layup.
“But again, (we) started trying to do (our) own thing and it just shows.
“Eventually it’s going to click in their minds that they have to do it the right way.
“It was a good press but the middle was open and we beat it when we took our time and that’s what they have to realize.”
For Bensalem, it was only the Owls’ second win of the season (their first was over winless Neshaminy). Bensalem entered the game coming off tough losses to defending District 1 champion Abington and Pennsbury, a district 1 semifinalist and state quarterfinalist in 2015.
“We needed a win. We’ve had a very tough schedule – Pennsbury, Abington, Archbishop Ryan so it’s been a real tough start. We lost a real tough game to Council Rock South in overtime so we were due for a win.”
While Harris was the leading scorer with 23 points including nine in the second period and 10 in the third, he was held to just a pair of layups in the initial frame.
“The first period, I thought, we kept him under check pretty well. Of course, they didn’t get the opportunity to get him the ball as much.
“He came out in the second half and he just wanted to take over and he pretty much did.
“We tried to mix it up by putting a couple different players on him – Taco Douglas, Richard Dean and Malcolm Carey.
The Owl defenders held Harris scoreless in the fourth quarter, a period in which Bristol managed only six points. Ironically, the battle ended with a Warrior turnover.
After Harris, no player from Bristol reached double digits. Adrian Ellerbe had five and Parker Kelley, Alex Jerbos and Dom Sica chipped in with four apiece. Garrison, Carter Kelley and Samir Brisbon added two each.
Bensalem 69, Bristol 48
(Dec. 28 at Bensalem)
Bristol 10 14 18 6 – 48
Bensalem 24 15 15 15 – 69
BENSALEM – Ward Roberts 21, Brandon Vaughn 3, Austin Squillace 2, Rich Dean 13, Taco Douglas 12, B.J. Jones 5, Brian Quarterman 13; TOTALS: 27 7-11 69.
3-POINT GOALS: Roberts 3, Quarterman 2, Vaughn, Dean, Jones.
BRISTOL – Parker Kelley 4, Carter Kelley 2, Alex Jerbos 4, Deonte Harris 23, Ronnie Garrison 2, Adrian Ellerbe 5, Dayeshawn Cortez 2, Samir Brisbon 2, Dom Sica 4; TOTALS: 18 8-12 48.
3-POINT GOALS: Harris 4.