Holy Ghost Prep basketball uses dramatic comeback to score win over New Hope-Solebury (VIDEO)

Holy Ghost Prep senior Joe Calvin, 24, left, is defended by New Hope-Solebury senior Brendan Shadle in BAL boys basketball action Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 at HGP, Bensalem, Pa.   (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

BENSALEM >> Call it mid-term exam jitters or whatever you want, but Holy Ghost Prep (HGP) did not play well Tuesday night, Jan. 11 in its boys basketball battle with visiting New Hope-Solebury (NH-S).

And yet, trailing the Lions by as many as nine points with 2:28 remaining in the contest, somehow, the Firebirds pulled out a win.

“We were sluggish, really, the whole night,” admitted HGP head coach Tony Chapman. “We did not play with any sense of urgency, except for the last two minutes of the game.”

“Our whole demeanor tonight seemed to be a bit off.”

In the last two minutes however, Holy Ghost (7-3, 5-1: BAL) got a pair of 3-point plays from senior Mike McFadden and two more treys from classmate Aidan Bauer, the second coming with 3.5 seconds remaining to give the ‘birds a 3-point edge at 45-42.

“The flip side of it was our kids were frustrated but they didn’t give up,” said Chapman. “Aidan Bauer had a tough night shooting but he took the two big shots down the stretch and made them both.”

“He’s a competitive kid and he showed his experience here tonight.”

When a ball tossed up by NH-S senior Brendan Shadle clanked off the rim at the buzzer, Holy Ghost had itself its seventh win of the season.

Turnovers by the Lions in the waning moments cost New Hope (4-7, 2-6: BAL) dearly in this one.

“You always have to have in the back of your mind that you can’t make mistakes in those situations,” said NH-S head coach Rick Fedele. “We made the mistakes and they capitalized.”

Using the height of 6-7 forward Topher Taylor – who led the Lions with 14 points – New Hope proved early in the battle it could hang with the Firebirds.

Buckets by Kevin Dougherty and Shadle, along with a pair of field goals each from Taylor and junior Nick Garritano put the Lions in front, 12-11, after one period.

“At that point, they knew they were in the game; they knew they could win it,” said Chapman.

“We didn’t rebound well. We didn’t really do anything that well tonight.

“We were sporadic against Church Farm (50-46 loss) and very sporadic again tonight.

“It’s all about consistency and we still have not gotten there.”

While Ghost surged ahead 24-19 at the half after finishing the second period with a 7-2 run, New Hope again closed the gap to a single point – 31-30 – after three periods when Taylor’s jumper on the Lions’ last possession beat the buzzer.

In the final frame, New Hope used a combination of steals, defensive stops and foul shooting to surge ahead, 42-33. Bauer may have opened the fourth quarter with a pair of made free throws but the Lions scored the next 12 points.

In its 12-0 run, New Hope made eight straight free throws, the final four by Shadle and Taylor coming on one-and-one chances. The Lions also converted a pair of layups by Garritano and Taylor, both coming off feeds from Shadle.

With less than two and 1/2 minutes remaining, New Hope was poised to steal a win from the Firebirds. Coach Fedele wasn’t so sure, however.

“I wasn’t secure. With 2:28 seconds, I’m thinking, nine points, that’s not enough,” said the coach. “I didn’t think it was enough to pull it out.”

It wasn’t.

That quick, McFadden – who led all scorers with 16 points – pulled up with a jumper to the left side of the 3-point arc, and jammed one in off both sides of the rim to cut the Lions’ lead to six. After a New Hope turnover, Big Mike converted a 3-point play with a layup and the and-one to draw the ‘birds within three points. McFadden hit three shots from behind the arc in this one and the ‘birds made six treys for the game, including three in the final frame.

“Shooters – sooner or later – start making them,” said Fedele.

“And that’s what happened at an opportune time for them. He (McFadden) put that in the bucket and all of a sudden, they started making shots.”

The Lions then turned the ball over again when HGP sophomore Greg Sylvester latched onto an inbounds pass by New Hope and Chapman quickly called for a timeout with 1:58 remaining.

From there, Ghost looked masterful executing its four-corner offense with junior Jack Elliot finding Bauer open on the right side for a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 1:45 left.

The Lions then caught a break when Sylvester was called for a holding foul, sending Dougherty to the line for two shots. The junior guard missed both, however, setting the stage for Bauer’s final winning trey.

Regardless of how his team played in the first 30 minutes, Chapman – who’s guided the Firebirds for the past 38 seasons – says he’s never been part of such a dramatic comeback at HGP.

“I’ve never been down nine points with 2:20 to go and come back and won in regulation,” the coach stated. “The fact that our kids hung in there and made some smart decisions down the stretch is a credit to them.”

After the game, both coaches pointed to experience as the deciding factor. With seven seniors, Holy Ghost has it while New Hope – with only one 12th-grader – doesn’t.

“Our kids have been through a lot of big league and district games and we’ve been in a lot of situations where we’ve been behind,” said Chapman. “We did a nice job of not panicking and maintaining our cool.

“His kids are young and they’re just learning. They’ll make better decisions at critical times in the future.”

“Somebody needs to take charge in these situations and we need to learn how to play with a lead,” added Fedele. “We haven’t had many leads this year and we have to learn how to hold onto that.”

Chapman added that center Greg Calvin, a 6-4 sophomore for HGP, did a nice job defending Taylor – who, earlier on, was beating the ‘birds up in the paint – late in the game

Holy Ghost lost 43-35 to Suburban One National League rival Neshaminy (5-6) on Thursday, Jan. 12 but rebounded with a 57-38 triumph over BAL rival Bristol (3-4) on Friday, the 13th. New Hope rebounded with a win over Morrisville (3-6) on Jan. 13.

Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter

Holy Ghost Prep 45, New Hope-Solebury 42

(Jan. 10 at HGP)

New Hope-Solebury       12 7 11 12 – 42

Holy Ghost Prep               11 13 7 14 – 45

NEW HOPE-SOLEBURY (4-7, 2-6: BAL) — Kevin Dougherty 3 5-8 11, Brendan Shadle 1 2-3 4, Nick Garritano 5 3-5 13, Topher Taylor 6 2-4 14; TOTALS — 15 12-20 42.

HOLY GHOST PREP (7-3, 5-1: BAL) — Jack Elliott 1 1-2 3, John McCrane 4 1-1 10, Aidan Bauer 4 2-2 12, Mike McFadden 6 1-2 16, Ryan Staropoli 1 0-0 2, Greg Calvin 1 0-0 2; TOTALS — 11 5-7 45.

3-POINT GOALS: HGP — McCrane, Bauer 2, McFadden 3.

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