Holy Ghost Prep basketball powers past Octorara in district semis (VIDEO)

AMBLER – Leading No. 2 seed Octorara by a dozen points heading into the final frame, Holy Ghost Prep winced as the Braves staged a fourth-quarter press, mounting a 6-0 run to start the last period and cut the Firebirds’ edge in half.

That’s when senior Jack Coolahan, after taking a cross-court pass from junior Mike McFadden, drove the lane, pulling up midway for a mid-range jumper then hitting the ensuing free throw for a 3-point play that extended Ghost’s lead back to nine.

“That changed the whole momentum of the game,” said Firebirds junior guard Mike McFadden. “They had the momentum and they were getting excited and everything and that just kind of put the lid on them.

“That really helped us out to shut them up and get them a little worried about the lead again since time was winding down.”

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Still, there was 5:45 remaining in regulation – plenty of time for the Braves to catch No. 3 seed Holy Ghost. And yet, there was Coolahan again, this time feeding McFadden for a layup in the lane, one in which Mike drew the foul and made the free throw for a 3-point play of his own that put the ‘birds up 45-33.

“It’s all about getting down the floor when Jack starts attacking,” added McFadden. “He brings everybody to him. If you get to that low block, he’s really going to beat it.”

After that, Octorara’s press defense didn’t seem to work all that much with Ghost getting a bunch of open layups down the stretch for a 57-37 triumph that puts the Firebirds in the District 1 championship battle on Saturday and sends them to states.

“Jack played great,” said HGP head coach Tony Chapman. “Great players play great in big games; he certainly did here tonight.”

“He really does do everything,” added McFadden, of the effort turned in by Coolahan. “He rebounds for us. He can bring the ball up the court. He’s 6-4 and he can guard the big guys. He really helps us out. If we’re struggling, he’ll really turn it on. That gets everybody else excited and bring the team’s moral back up.”

The lead extended back to a dozen, junior Aidan Bauer hit a layup off a feed from senior Julian Turner then Turner and Bauer combined on a feed to Coolahan for another easy basket underneath. Bauer hit two more buckets in the paint, the first a nifty layup and the second of which put Ghost on top 53-37 with 2:43 remaining.

The Braves, who captured the Ches-Mont American Conference championship earlier in the season, conceded the game, from there.

“We needed to attack the press,” said McFadden. “Once we started attacking it, you could see they had some holes in the backcourt. Once we were able to get the ball up to Aidan or me, it really helped us attack the press instead of just trying to pass out of it.”

For the game, Coolahan led the Firebirds with 22 points, and he scored nine of Ghost’s 11 points in the first quarter when the team was still getting its legs under it. McFadden scored 16, coming alive in the second quarter with a pair of field goals then hitting four shots from the floor in the third period including a 3-pointer.

Bauer also hit for double figures; he scored 13 points, hitting a 3-pointer in the second period then following that up with a field goal. His three layups in the final frame helped put this one in the win column.

For their efforts, the ‘birds will face top seed Lower Moreland, a 77-56 winner over No. 4 Bishop Shanahan in the D-1 title tilt 8 p.m. Saturday at Council Rock South.

For McFadden, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, the victory over Octorara was sweet.

“This is just a great feeling,” he said. “I’m really excited to go out and try to win a district championship.”

While Ghost got the best of Lower Moreland in a December 2015 matchup, the Lions have won the last two including a 63-52 triumph in the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) quarterfinals.

“I really like our chances,” said McFadden. “We have good momentum right now. We know what to do. We played them three times and we’re just excited. We want them back and it’s a nice little rivalry.

“It’s good for us, for states – they make us better but we feel we make them better, too.”


After the game, players and coaches alike said the school has come together in the wake of the loss of junior Ryan Attryde, who passed away two days ago.

“We just found out at morning assembly,” stated McFadden. “It shocked us a little bit but we all came together at the school tonight. The fans came out and they were really excited to, hopefully, get the school back together, get a positive.

“We wanted to win this one for Ryan and in the end, we did.”

According to Chapman, the tragic loss of life has bonded the Holy Ghost community together.

“The passing of this young man a couple of days ago is just so, so hard on the school,” the coach said. “A lot of this is just community and the school coming together.”

“It’s a tough time and there’s no doubt in my mind that our kids gave it a little extra umph because of the feelings this tragedy has left them with.

“It’s unbelievable.”

Contact the author at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com, or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter


Holy Ghost Prep 57, Octorara 37

(Feb. 24 at Wissahickon)

Octorara     13  5  9  10 – 37

Holy Ghost 11 13 15 18 – 57

HOLY GHOST (19-7) — Julian Turner 2, Mike McFadden 16, John McCrane 2, Jack Coolahan 22, Aiden Bauer 13, Ryan Wade 2; TOTALS — 25 5-7 57.

OCTORARA (20-5) — Jackson Ray 7, Saaleem Pugh 6, Jamonti Mayo 5, Dominck London 1, Jaekwon Dickinson 2, Christian Ray 16; TOTALS — 13 10-13 37.

3-POINT GOALS: HG — McFadden, Bauer; O — Mayo.

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