Bonner-Prendergast basketball steals win from Conwell-Egan (VIDEO)

FAIRLESS HILLS – This was it. This was the night that 52 years of Eagles’ playoff futility in the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) was going to come to an end.

Seeded seventh in the tournament, Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC) had the opportunity to have their devoted Eagles fans witness history facing 10th-seeded Bonner-Prendergast. Ahead 21-16 at the half, Egan surged ahead after the intermission, more than doubling its lead going into the fourth quarter.

Two minutes into the final frame, CEC’s big man Vinny Dalessandro (15 pts.) slammed down a decisive dunk that put his team on top, 42-31 with six minutes to go, igniting the Eagles’ faithful.

And yet somehow the Friars – a team that tallied just 27 points in the first three quarters – poured 22 into the rim in the final frame to win the game in regulation. What’s more, Bonner-Prendie (13-11, 4-9 PCL) pulled off the feat without even a single 3-pointer.

Turnovers killed Egan (14-9, 7-6 PCL) throughout in this one. Six times, they surrendered the ball in the fourth quarter, helping the Friars climb back into the contest.

The final dagger was plunged into the neck of the Eagles by B-P junior Christian Lane (10 pts.), who poked the ball free from the hands of Conwell-Egan senior Lapri McCray-Pace (11 pts.) and took the ball coast-to-coast for an easy layup – what would be the winning basket – with 10.7 seconds left.

“What was really frustrating was that at every timeout I said, ‘we have four timeouts left and the (possession) arrow. Use a timeout, get tied up, we have the arrow,’ over and over and over again,” stated CEC head coach Frank Sciolla.

“At 45-37, we called a timeout to remind them we were winning because we were making so many poor decisions and trying to force passes.”

“To Bonner’s credit, they pressured us; they put us on the line. We missed free throws and we had a couple of breakaway layups we weren’t able to finish.”

Add to that a 2-for-8 success rate by the Egan shooters in the fourth quarter and a pair of blocks by Friar defenders in the last 90 seconds and you have a recipe for a late-game collapse.

The Eagles certainly didn’t start the way they finished. Egan turned a 4-4 tie into a 12-8 advantage by the end of the first period on a pair of field goals and a pair of treys by McCray-Pace and Dalessandro, who drained three buckets from 3-point range for the game.

Three-balls by CEC sophomore Eric Esposito and junior Drew Burton and a 3-point play by classmate Darien Simmons (11 pts.) sparked Egan’s offense in the second quarter – enough to go into the intermission up, 21-16.

Dalessanro added two more treys and an opening layup in a third quarter that saw 17 points posted by the Eagles. Add a 3-ball by junior Kar’ron Johnson and a pair of free throws by Simmons and it sure looked like Egan might be on its way to its first PCL playoff win since 1964.

A crack in the armor however in the form of at least a dozen turnovers by the Birds even before the start of the fourth quarter turned into a great divide.

And Bonner took full advantage, pouring eight field goals into the rim in the last stanza while going 6-for-6 at the foul line. Lane and classmate Keith Washington (10 pts.) accounted for a dozen of the Friars’ fourth-quarter points and they also got buckets from senior John Hargraves (11 pts.), junior Dylan Higgins and senior Ryan Germany. B-P sophomore reserve guard Magd Adelwehab also sparked the team with four points in the final frame.

For Bonner, this win makes four straight. The Friars had to win their last two against Bishop McDevitt and West Catholic just to get into a PCL play-in duel Feb. 9 at LaSalle. Facing the Burrs for the second time in three nights, they won back-to-back against West before entering the battle at Egan.

“We’ve been struggling to score all year so our best offense is that pressure and kind of helter-skelter defense; we get some easy baskets off it,” explained Bonner-Prendie head coach Jack Concannon.

“Some nights, it works, some nights, it doesn’t. Luckily for us, it worked tonight.”

The Friar defenders also did a good job in limiting leading scorer Lapri McCray-Pace to just 11 points. The 6-2 guard posted 16 points in a 61-44 Eagles’ win last month at CEC.

“We did a good job with the zone just knowing where he was. He killed us earlier in the season,” added Concannon. “We had at least one-and-a-half, two guys on him the whole game and (we) tried to make other guys beat us.”

A team with just four Catholic League wins entering the postseason, Bonner has performed a yeoman’s work in getting to the PCL quarterfinal round, which is tomorrow night.

“We’ve been on a little bit of a roll and the kids are playing with confidence,” said Concannon. “So we kind of looked at it as we have nothing to lose.”

“The seniors know you lose, you go home and they’re not ready to go home yet.”

“We’re glad to be playing another night.”

For the Friars, that night comes Friday in South Philadelphia vs. Nuemann-Goretti, the defending PIAA Class AAA champion.

For Egan – the defending PA state AA champion, the Eagles await the District 12 AA championship where they’ll face the Philadelphia Public League champ in what they hope is a successful defense of their 2015 title. After dropping five of their last six games, all against PCL opponents, the Eagles have little time to solve their woes facing pressure defense.

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Bonner-Prendergast 49, Conwell-Egan 47

(Feb. 10 at Conwell-Egan)

Bonner-Prendergast 8 8 11 22 – 49

Conwell-Egan 12 9 17 9 – 47

BONNER-PRENDERGAST — John Hargraves 5 1-4 11, Keith Washington 4 2-2 10, Christian Lane 4 2-2 10, Justin Gans 2 2-2 6, Dylan Higgins 2 0-1 4, Magd Adelwehad 1 2-2 4, Mike Mercanti 1 0-0 2, Ryan Germany 1 0-0 2; TOTALS — 20 9-13 49.

CONWELL-EGAN — Vinny Dalessandro 6 0-0 15, Darian Simmons 2 7-7 11, LaPri McCray-Pace 4 2-4 11, Kar’ron Johnson 1 1-2 4, Eric Esposito 1 0-0 3, Drew Burton 1 0-0 3; TOTALS — 15 10-13 47.

3-POINT GOALS: CEC — Dalessandro 3, McCray-Pace, Johnson, Esposito, Burton; B-P — none.


Bonner Prendergast88112249


3Darien Simmons277011
11Drew Burton10013
21LaPri McCray-Pace424111
34Eric Esposito10013
42Vinny Dalessandro600315
5Kar’ron Johnson11214

Bonner Prendergast

Keith Washington422010
Mike Mercanti10002
Christian Lane422010
Dylan Higgins20004
John Hargraves514011
Ryan Germany10002
Magd Adelwehab12204
Justin Gans22206

Match Stats

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