Pennsbury basketball joins together in win over Cheltenham in Pete & Jameer Nelson Classic (PHOTO GALLERY)

CHESTER – With four fouls late in the game against SOL American Conference leader Cheltenham, Pennsbury senior Mark Flagg was hedging his bets on the defensive end of the court. The Panthers launched a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter, making this 12th annual Pete & Jameer Nelson Classic duel a horse race so Flagg was taking the rock to the house.

Oh! Say it isn’t so but big Mark was flagged for a fifth foul, sending the 6-8 forward to the showers midway through the fourth quarter.

Fortunately, the Falcons are not a one-dimensional team. Head coach Bill Coleman says the team has more like 10 dimensions – as in five starters and five players who can come in off the bench and contribute.

“We’re not a team of superstars,” said Coleman. “We’re very good basketball players and very good athletes.

“We need to be 10 strong in order to be successful.”

It sure seemed like Pennsbury got contributions from 10 players in this one.


While Cheltenham junior Ahmad Bickley hit a jumper to close the gap to four points, the Falcons reopened the gash to 10. With Flagg on the bench, Pennsbury mounted an 8-2 run with help from starter Joey Monoghan, who hit for a pair of layups, classmate Tyler Sessa-Reeves, who hit a pair of free throws and a fast-break layup by point guard Addison Howard, who led the team with 17 points including four critical free throws in the final minute.

“Addy’s one of those guys who flies underneath the radar, maybe because of his size,” commented Coleman. “He might only be 5-8 but the kid can shoot.”

While Bickley came through with a three and junior Jack Clark backed that up with an ensuing layup for the Panthers, by then, there was just a minute left and the Falcons won the fight from the foul line, making good on six of their final eight shots from the charity stripe.

As usual, Flagg took control in the beginning, hitting for three field goals in the first quarter and accounting for nine of the team’s 27 points at the intermission.

Senior Vaughn Ward put Pennsbury on top 10-5 late in the initial frame and the Falcons took a five-point lead into the second period on a jumper by Flagg. The Falcons began the next quarter with a putback bucket by senior forward Billy Warren and the first of two second-period 3-pointers by Howard.

Addison would trade treys with Cheltenham sophomore Tim Myarick but Flagg countered with a 3-point play of his own to expand Pennsbury’s lead to 11 points with 2:30 left in the first half.

Cheltenham senior Trevonn Pitts – who led the Panthers with 19 points – canned his third field goal in the third period and his fifth in the half to cut the Falcons’ edge to nine at the intermission.

After the break, the reserve players for Pennsbury really started to shine through. The Falcons needed it, especially when Cheltenham opened the second half on a 3-pointer by Rod Carson and a jumper by Bickley that cut the lead to four 2:31 into the third quarter.

Pennsbury countered with a 3-pointer by Sessa-Reeves and was up five when Flagg put down a driving layup and Ward latched onto an ensuing inbounds pass by the Panthers to widen the lead to nine.

While Cheltenham senior Tim Spencer canned a trey to cut the gap to six, the Falcons countered with a 10-2 run to enter the final frame up 46-32. Half of those points came from the Pennsbury bench with sophomore Gary Francis registering a 3-point play and junior Josh Arruda canning his second field goal in the third period.

Ward came up with another steal late in the quarter, dishing the ball off to Howard, who dribbled end-to-end with a driving layup.

“When I get into the game, I just try to bring effort,” said Ward.

The Panthers opened the final frame with a 6-point burst, fueled by a pair of putback buckets by Pitts. The Falcons answered back with a layup by Francis but Cheltenham responded with a pair of free throws by Pitts and a layup by Myarick.

Right around the time that Flagg fouled out, Monoghan sprang into action. His second field goal in the fourth period came off a feed from Ward and put Pennsbury up 56-46 with two minutes left.

“I’m always there for Mark; I have his back as a teammate,” said Monoghan. “No pressure at all; I’m always ready to play. I’m always there for my team.”

The Panthers quickly halved the lead with Bickley hitting his second trey in the game and junior Jack Clark adding a layup. With time winding down, Cheltenham went full court press and the Falcons turned it over on an inbound pass.

Coleman did not see turnovers as a problem, not in this game.

“There were only two possessions where I recall that we were under duress,” explained Coleman. “And that was because we didn’t hustle to our spots.

“But there were at least three or four possessions where we broke their press and got easy layups out of it.

A dozen of Pennsbury’s 14 bench points came in the final two frames, with the Panthers pressing.

“That’s what you’re starting to see – the bench is lifting our effort up, which is huge,” stated Coleman.

“If someone is struggling, we have someone else who can step up.”

“Our bench challenges the starters and that’s when you become a very good basketball team.”

Next, the Falcons face 2016 state quarterfinalist Chester at 7 p.m. Friday as the P&JN Classic continues at Widener University. Abington staved off a furious late rally by the clippers to get past the 2016 PIAA quarterfinalists, 53-50.

NOTES: A huge officiating call late in the game came when Pitts was called for an offensive foul with 1:03 remaining. Both Flagg’s fourth and fifth fouls were called on the offensive end of the court.

Contact Steve Sherman at or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter

Pete & Jameer Nelson Classic

Pennsbury 62, Cheltenham 53

(Dec. 29 at Widener)

Pennsbury (5-2) 12 15 19 16 – 62

Cheltenham (5-2) 7 11 14 21 – 53

PENNSBURY — Billy Warren 4, Vaughn Ward 5, Tyler Sessa-Reeves 5, Joey Monaghan 9, Addison Howard 17, Gary Francis 5, Mark Flagg 13, Josh Arruda 4; TOTALS — 22 15-22—62.

CHELTENHAM — Tim Spencer 9, Ahmad Bickley 12, Rodney Carson 6, Jack Clark 2, Tim Myarick 5, Trevonn Pitts 19; TOTALS — 21 6-13—53.

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