FRANCONIA >> North Penn’s Chris Coleman drove to the basket and scored with just five seconds to go, and a desperation shot at the buzzer by Souderton Area’s Ian Beardsley rattled off the rim at the other end, as the Knights held on for a thrilling 49-47 victory over rival Big Red in a Suburban One League Continental Conference clash at Souderton Friday night.
“Huge, huge win,” said the Knights’ Matt Pickford, whose 12 points led a balanced attack for NP. “The locker room was really jumping after that one — it had been a while since we felt that.”
North Penn persevered through some tough defeats to get its second conference win and improve to 2-4 in the Continental. The Knights, getting 11 points each from Lance Lindsay-Ford and Reece Udinski, raised their overall record to 5-7, rallying back from a 24-17 halftime deficit.
“The shots started falling,” Pickford said of the second half. “They had been playing a 2-3 zone on us and we were able to shoot our way out of that.”
Six points in the third quarter by Pickford, including a three, allowed the Knights to surge to a 38-33 lead heading into the final quarter.
In a game that swung back and forth several times, Souderton (4-8 overall, 1-5 conference) began the fourth with a 9-0 run, building its lead to 42-38 when a three pointer by Mike Bealer fell clean through, sending the Big Red portion of the crowd into a frenzy.
Souderton, pounding the ball inside to Austin Eberhart with tremendous success — Eberhart had the game high with 16 points, Big Red would lead by four points on three separate occasions in the fourth.
But the Knights kept coming back, and a pair of free throws by Udinski tightened the contest to 46-44, and a three by Lindsay-Ford would deadlock the score at 47 all moments later.
North Penn would regain possession with 31 seconds to go, calling timeout to set up the final play, as they would work the ball around and set up an isolation play for Coleman.
“As soon as it was called,” Pickford said, “I knew it was going in.”
“Chris made a great move to the basket,” Knights coach John Conrad said. “The guys just really played hard. They kept fighting.”
Tracy Simsick added 13 points for Big Red, who led by as many as nine.
“That was a tough one,” Indians coach Chuck Kornegay said. “The kids really duked it out. It kept going back and forth, but it just came down to (North Penn) making some big shots at the end and we didn’t. They had a couple guys really step up for them.”
With four points each from Simsick and Austin Eberhart, Souderton took an 8-4 lead into the second quarter.
There, North Penn went on a 9-0 run, capped by a three pointer by J.J. Melchior, putting the Knights in front, 13-8.
But then control of the contest shifted once again as Souderton went on a 16-2 run to build a 24-15 advantage. Key for Big Red was the inside play of Eberhart, who began scoring off rebounds and gave the Indians a reliable force underneath.
Ty Salone began finding his way to the basket and also set up Matt Cartwright for a three, boosting the Indians’ lead to 24-15.
A pair of free throws by Pickford, who had six first-half points to lead the Knights, would close the gap to seven at the half.
North Penn went ahead in the third before taking the lead for good in the fourth.
“It feels great to come here and come out with the win,” Pickford said.