North Penn starts 2nd half strong, holds off Methacton

PERKIOMEN >>  It’s not how they were draw up, but AJ Mitchell finds a way to get it done.

“Couple of no-no-yeses with him,” North Penn coach John Conrad said. “He’s just a good athlete and he loves to compete and we think that’s what he’s doing there. Sometimes he goes off-script but he’s just competing.”

It’s the same for the rest of the Knights boys basketball team – it has just been finding ways to pick up wins so far this season. Tuesday night against Methacton in the Viking Shootout at Perkiomen Valley, it was a strong start to the second half and the ability to answer the Warriors in the fourth quarter that earned North Penn a 56-51 victory.

“I thought the end of the second (quarter) and the third, I thought we had a lot of good stops defensively. They seemed like they were stuck on 24 for a long time,” Conrad said. “And then fourth quarter we traded buckets but thankfully we had a big enough cushion.”

North Penn’’s David Giuliani goes for a lay up as Methacton’’s Shamus Shields defends during their game in the Viking Shootout on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Mitchell and David Giuliani both scored 12 points to pace North Penn (6-2, 2-0 Suburban One League Continental) while Lance Ford and Reece Udinski each chipped in nine points.

“If we need someone to run the floor, we got someone to run the floor,” Mitchell said. “We got people that just run the offense and get good looks. And that’s just how our substitutions are.”

Down 24-22 at the half, North Penn began the third quarter with a 15-6 run to take a 37-30 lead on Mitchell’s jumper. The Warriors whittled the margin down to one in the fourth after a David Duda three but Mitchell responded by burying a triple, putting NP up 47-43.

“I feel like outside of North Penn basketball, my training, I’m getting better with the training,” Mitchell said. “And it’s just transitioning into the game.”

Methacton pulled within two points three times only for Giuliani and Chris Coleman to come up with big baskets down the stretch to give North Penn its second straight win.

“We certainly didn’t want to trade baskets. We though defensively, we were not sharp as we need to be.,” Conrad said. “Give them credit, they run great stuff, I though (David) Duda had a great game against us. So, just fortunate to get a W here especially the way they were able to score.”

Duda knocked down four three-pointers in finishing with game-high 16 points for Methacton (3-5, 2-1 PAC Liberty), who lost for the third time in its past four contests. Shamus Shields added 10 points.

“I think our kids are fighting really hard. I told them in the locker room I’m proud of their effort, they continually worked,” Warriors coach Jeff Derstine said. “We shot the ball better than we have been tonight, the turnovers just really hurt us.”

Methacton faces Wissahickon in the Wednesday’s Viking Shootout opener at 5 p.m. while North Penn takes on Perkiomen Valley at 6:30 p.m. Perk Valley beat Wissahickon 65-56 in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

A 7-0 run in the second quarter gave the Warriors a 24-17 lead after a Jeff Woodward bucket inside. But Giuliani converted a three-point play at 1:52 and Mitchell found Coleman for a layup in the final seconds to cut the Warriors’ advantage to 24-22 at the break.

“A couple turnovers late in the first half I thought we were a little bit indecisive with the basketball. And I thought that was big cause we had that nice little run and I thought we were doing things well,” Derstine said. “And to their credit, they answered it and they made some plays.”

Udinski began the third with five straight points, giving NP the lead for good with his trey that made it 27-24 Knights.

Trailing 37-30, a Duda three and two Shields free throws had the Warriors within 37-35 with 7.9 seconds left in the quarter. Derek Heiserman, however, hit a corner three just before the buzzer to put the Knights up five.

“Every time we made a big shot, we weren’t able to get a stop at the other end,” Derstine said. “Our defense has been solid all season, but they really had an answer I thought every time that we made a play down the stretch.”

A Mitchell jumper had North Penn leading 42-35 before Methacton scored eight of the next 10 points, Duda’s fourth triple making it a one-point contest.

Mitchell’s three had the Knights up four but Duda connected on a floater in the lane. A Giuliani basket made it  49-45 before Noah Kitaw’s layup off an inbounds had the margin back down to two.

Coleman responded by hitting a contested jumper from the foul line for a 53-49 lead. After Patrick O’Neill’s swished a shot in the lane, Coleman again connected on a jumper. Methacton’s next points did not come until a Shields basket with 6.3 seconds left made it 54-51.

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