PHILADELPHIA >> David Giuliani does everything he can to not be out-hustled near the basket.
“I always notice an advantage because I’m stronger than most kids,” the Phil-Mont Christian junior said. “I’m not always the tallest guy, but I’m always working hard.”
Giuliani and the Falcons needed every ounce of that effort Saturday afternoon in a tight battle with Jenkintown in the Bicentennial Athletic League boys basketball tournament final at Holy Family University.
Through 24 minutes, the Drakes’ 3-point shooting matched Phil-Mont’s size and length, but a burst to start the fourth quarter put the Falcons ahead as they held on claim the championship with a 57-48 victory.
“They did a great job of taking away stuff inside early and when we did have the opportunities, we didn’t finish. We started finishing more, we hit our foul shots which we didn’t make in the first half, Phil-Mont Christian coach Glenn Dolton said. “And we stated to understand (how) our defense was supposed to like. We were supposed to be in that kind of pressure for the whole game. And for it to finally kick in, I don’t know if it was a desperation thing or not. But hopefully that’s how we can play for four quarters.”
Giuliani paced the Falcons (25-1) with 19 points, doing most of his damage against the Drakes (17-9) by hauling in offensive rebounds and scoring on putbacks, although he hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
“My dad tells me, always tells me actually, offensive rebounds are 100 percent effort and positions, Giuliani said. “So, if you get in the right position and you’re working harder than the guy you’re up against, chances are you’ll end up with the ball and be able to put it right back.”
Jenkintown’s first six field goals were 3-pointers and finished with 10 makes from beyond the arc. Colin Mulvaney had half of the Drakes’ 3s as he scored a game-high 24 points.
But after Mulvaney’s triple to tie the game 39-39 at the end of the third, the Drakes did not hit another 3 while Phil-Mont to the lead for good by beginning the fourth with a 9-2 run.
“We had a lot of turnovers that we didn’t have earlier in the game and it’s just unfortunate because they played so well for the most part,” Jenkintown coach Wes Emme said. “You obviously see where (Phil-Mont’s) strength is inside with Giuliani and (Sean) Griffin. And Giuliani was outstanding and we really didn’t have an answer for him.
“We were sending two guys at him, telling guys not to help off him. He just still willed his way to the rim. And he hit some tough ones, too, going over either shoulder.”
Osaze Thornton scored 16 points with Noah Baldez chipped in 14 points – half coming at the foul line on the fourth – for Phil-Mont, which lost to Lower Moreland in last year’s BAL final. The victory was the 22nd straight for the Falcons.
Jameson Kolb added 10 points for Jenkintown.
Both teams open the District 1-A Tournament Friday. The Falcons are the top seed and host No. 8 Christopher Dock while the No. 5 Drakes visit No. 4 Collegium Charter.
Phil-Mont Christian broke the 39-39 tie when Matt Stieger drove for a basket. A Baldez free throw made it 42-39 at 7:21 in then fourth before Kolb’s layup had Jenkintown within one.
The Falcons, however, scored the next six points – two Baldez free throws at 5:13, a Giuliani basket and a Baldez putback pushing the advantage to 48-41.
Kolb’s three-point play cut Phil-Mont’s lead to 50-46 at 2:08. A Falcons turnover gave the Drakes a chance to get closer, but they missed a 3 and Phil-Mont sealed the win going 7-of-9 from the line.
Jenkintown led 28-27 at halftime and started the third with a Mulvaney jumper and Kolb 3 to go up 33-27. But despite having Griffin on the bench with foul trouble, the Falcons answered with a 12-3 run led by Giuliani and Thornton.
After a Mulvaney 3 made it 36-31, four starlight Thornton points got the Falcons within one while consecutive Giuliani basket had Phil-Mont up 39-36.
“Jameson Kolb hits that big three to put us up (six) in the third quarter and then Sean Griffin gets a foul, they’re playing without one of their stars and we feel like we’re doing well,” Emme said. “And then Osaze Thornton and Giuliani Coe at you. That’s why they’re 25-1, they play in waves.”
Mulvaney hit his fifth 3-pointer to pull the Drakes even 39-39.
Jenkintown knocked down 4 3s for all of its points in the first quarter, with Mulvaney’s corner triple giving his side a 12-10 lead after the first eight minutes.
The Drakes were up by as much as five in the second quarter – the last time at 20-15- but Phil-Mont tied the game 23-23 when Thornton banked in a three.
Mulvaney’s free throw at 2:01 made it 25-24 Jenkintown. The teams proceeded to trade one-point leads with a Jon Contoudis jumper beforethe buzzer putting the Drakes up 28-27 at halftime.