NORTHAMPTON >> It would be perfectly understandable to chalk up the District 1-A boys championship to Phil-Mont Christian before the game even started. The Falcons came into the game with a 27-1 record and the No. 1 seed.
Phil-Mont had some history to overcome, however, and there’s no way this team was going to just expect anything Saturday at Council Rock South.
“Over the last five years or so we’ve been in contention, it was just about getting over the hump,” Phil-Mont head coach Glenn Dolton said. “That’s what today was about.”
The Falcons used a strong second half, in which they outscored Delco Christian 31-15, to go home with a 58-41 win and the school’s first boys’ basketball district championship.
Despite some high expectations and a confidence in his team, Dolton knew how hard it was to win a district title from experience. It’s one of the things that make a victory sweeter.
“Two years ago, in 2014, we lost to Church Farm in the (district) finals at Villanova. Last year we got knocked out in the semis,” the head coach noted. “We’ve been able to maintain some consistency here. The guys have worked real hard for this, I’m proud of them.”
David Giuliani was the leading scorer in the game, scoring 17 points behind an impressive 11-of-12 performance from the line. He’s also one of the emotional leaders who made sure his team didn’t falter.
“Our motto for the year has been ‘press on.’ We’re taking it one game at a time,” Guiliani said. “Keep going, keep fighting, don’t lose.”
“My dad kept saying ‘you only have one game ahead of you,’” point guard Noah Baldez added. “Last year we lost because we were looking ahead…we just tried to keep our focus on the game ahead of us so we wouldn’t lose and be done.”
Baldez finished the game with 16 points of his own.
Despite the 17-point win, the game went into the half with just a one-point spread of 27-26
“We definitely picked up our defensive intensity,” Giuliani said. “Coming into halftime we weren’t happy only being up one. We just tried to push the ball faster and we picked up our defense too.”
Osaze Thornton added 12 points in the game for the Falcons.
A consistent thread in this Phil-Mont team is handling the task in front of them. It’s a philosophy Dolton and his staff has implemented and his players are fully behind it.
“We’ve had several games where we’ve had to really been focused,” Dolton said. “We’ve been concentrating on one game at a time. They’ve bought into that, there’s been no talk about what’s going on at the next level. It’s been really encouraging and fun to have a group that is on board with everything.”
The next level is the PIAA Tournament, but there’s little doubt the team is enjoying this win right now.
“I had two brothers (who played) before me,” Baldez said. “Their teams were good but our team is better. I’m just happy ‘cause we’ll be able to brag to them”
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