Council Rock South boys basketball topples Truman with stiff defense

Council Rock South senior Ryan McNamee, right, is guarded by Truman junior Z.J. Jackson (23) in boys basketball action Friday night, Jan. 20 on the Hawks’ home court.          (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

SOUTHAMPTON – Council Rock South came into Friday night’s battle with Suburban One National League rival Harry S Truman reeling from a three-game losing streak. CR South senior Eric Newbert was there but still unable to play after sustaining a high-ankle sprain more than a week ago and the Golden Hawks had been unable to get a win without him.

Until the Tigers came to town.

With the sides deadlocked at 12-all after a back-and forth first quarter, South senior Alex Nordenholt exploded for five buckets and scored 11 of his team’s 14 points in a second period in which the Hawks held Truman scoreless.

With a team-high 18 points, Nordenholt led the Hawks to a much-needed 56-30 triumph over the Tigers.

“Alex was in attack mode tonight,” said CR South head coach Derek Wright. “That’s how we want him to be. We want him to be aggressive.

“When he’s aggressive and gets into the paint, the guys have to step up and he did a nice job dumping down to Mac and Mac did a great job spacing the floor and finishing strong.”

Mac is senior Ryan McNamee and the 6-6 forward was the one scoring all the points in the opening frame. He scored eight of South’s 12 points in the first period and recorded 14 for the game, including 6-of-8 shots from the foul line.

Truman seniors Kelechi Ogbonna, Danell Snelling and Zierr Reid helped the Tigers keep pace in the first period with each hitting 3-pointers in the initial frame. After that, Truman couldn’t buy a 3-point basket with the visitors going 1-for-18 from beyond the arc in the last three quarters.

“At the end of the day, you have to put the ball in the basket,” said Tigers head coach Byron Conover. “We couldn’t make any shots tonight.”

Conover wasn’t kidding. Truman didn’t make a single shot in the second period and Snelling’s early layup was the Tigers’ only field goal in the third.

Meanwhile, the Hawks continued to pound the offensive glass while keeping Truman away from the boards on the Tigers’ end of the court.

Nordenholt ran the table with his hot hand, delivering a 3-pointer to start the second half. South senior Ryan Boyd fed McNamee for a driving layup then hit a shot of his own off the glass and, just like that,the Hawks were up 33-14 midway through the third period.

Four straight free throws by McNamee and Boyd were followed up by driving layups by seniors Shaun Smith and Austin Thomas, putting South up 41-15 to begin the final frame.

It was hard to imagine this was a 3-point game with less than three minutes remaining in the first half. It was right around that time, however, that the Hawks started clicking on both ends of the court.

Big Mac had just come down with a defensive board and he took the rebound and lobbed a long pass down the court to a streaking Nordenholt, who capped a driving layup off with a made free throw for a 3-point play that started South off on a roll.

Boyd followed with a driving layup of his own in which he drove into the basket from the left side of the baseline. McNamee then caught Nordenholt streaking to the basket for another two points in the paint and this time, Nordenholt missed the and-one.

No worries. Alex secured the rebound then drove down the left side of the lane for an easy two.

With his team now trailing by 12, Conover called for a Truman timeout, though it seemed like it mattered not. The Hawks followed with another defensive stop and a coast-to-coast bucket by Nordenholt to wrap up the half.

“When you make stops and make a couple shots, you start feeling good about what you’re doing,” explained Wright. “If you can get three straight stops and three straight scores, that’s huge.”

Snelling did what he could with seven points in the first three minutes of the final frame but by then, there was just no way the Tigers could catch up.

In the end, Truman had no answer for South’s liquid 2-3 matchup zone defense.

“Against this matchup zone, you have to make shots,” explained Conover. “I told them, ‘you have to loosen it up.’

“They packed it in and made us beat them over the top. They did that at Truman the first time and we made shots. Tonight, we couldn’t make anything go.”

When you have a pair of 6-6 forwards like McNamee and Boyd, it certainly makes it a lot easier to force the opponent to shoot over the top.

“We have a lot of length and we used it. We showed our hands,” said McNamee. “We talked a lot on defense so we didn’t have any slipups. I think that’s really what helped us. We boxed out well and did our job in defense.”

For the Hawks, the loss stops some of the bleeding imposed by a three-game losing streak that began Jan. 12 at Abington and continued with losses to non-league Pennridge in the SOL Challenge and most recently to sister school North.

“We didn’t like how we competed on Tuesday (against North) and we wanted to step up and face the challenge,” said Wright.

“We just had to keep playing,” added McNamee.

“We’re going through some rough times but coach says the sun will still set.

“Every team goes through rough times, you just have to play through it.

“And that’s what we did tonight.”

The win pushes CR South to 10-5 overall and more importantly 5-3 in the SOL National Conference. The Hawks tip off at 4 p.m. today against SOL Continental rival CB South (6-9, 4-4) which is coming off a big 52-44 win Friday night over CB West. The sides have not faced one another since January 2009 when the Titans topped the Hawks in the SOL Challenge.

Meanwhile, Truman heads to Pottstown to take on the 4-10 Trojans in a non-league pairing which is also set to tip off at 4 p.m.

Contact Steve Sherman at or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter

Council Rock South 56, Truman 30

(Jan. 20 at CR South)

Truman (7-7, 2-4: SONL) 12 0 3 15 – 30

CR South (10-5, 5-3: SONL) 12 14 15 15 – 56

COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH —Shaun Smith 2, Alex Nordenholt 18, Austin Thomas 7, Ryan Boyd 10, Ryan McNamee 14, Zach Schade 1, Shawn Blank 2,Kenny Brightcliffe 2; TOTALS — 22 10-15—67

TRUMAN — Danell Snelling 13, Gabe Gipli 4, ZJ Jackson 2, Jeff Nixon 1, Kelechi Ogbonna 1, Zierr Reid 3, Mike Phillips 3, Rasheid Newkirk 3; TOTALS — 10 6-12—30.

3-POINT GOALS: CRS — Thomas, Nordenholt; T — Snelling 2, Newkirk, Reid.

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