Fast start fuels Council Rock North boys basketball win over Pennsbury (VIDEOS)

Council Rock North senior Noah Ehlin, left, is guarded by Pennsbury senior Vaughn Ward in boys basketball duel between the schools Jan. 31 on the Indians’ home court.   (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – The way the season started for each team, it was hard to imagine the outcome of Tuesday night’s battle between 27th-ranked Council Rock North and 4th-ranked Pennsbury. The Indians lost 10 of their first 13 games while the visiting Falcons won nine of their first 13 including an 83-44 lambasting of the Rock.

Now, here the two teams were with a little less than two minutes to go in the rematch and only the reserves were playing for both sides. With North on top 46-33, Pennsbury head coach Bill Coleman pulled his starters while CR North skipper Jesse Krasna returned the favor.

The first-year Indians coach – whose team triumphed, 50-40 – owed that luxury to a 23-4 scoring string his team pasted on the Falcons in the first quarter.

In that initial frame, the Indians (7-12, 5-6 SOL National) used the fast break to their advantage, many times getting the ball into the hands of senior forward James Kosyla (17 pts.), who hit for five baskets and 12 points in the first period.

“James just came out and really took it to them with (12) points in the first period,” added Indians shooting guard Drew Burton. “I think that really set the tone for the rest of the game and that really helped us out.”

With only two road battles to go and not knowing their postseason fate (only the top 24 teams go to districts), the Rock players say they pulled out all the stops.

“Just knowing it was our last home game, especially for the starting five seniors, we came here with as much energy as possible and we gave it everything we got,” said Kosyla. “And that definitely showed.”

For 13-7 Pennsbury, the Falcons started off with a woeful 2-for-13 shooting performance in the first period while North posted up with 8-of-13 made shots. What made the situation worse for the visitors was the fact they failed to get back on defense in a timely fashion.

“They didn’t seem to want to get back in transition so we just got out and ran,” added Kosyla. “We got a lot of easy buckets, especially in the first period. A 23-point first period – we scored most of it off transition layups and the fast break.”

Couple that with a pair of three-pointers by Burton (17 pts.) and you can easily see how the Rock nearly ran the table in the initial frame.

“When they pressured us, we have a bunch of good guard on the team and Noah (Ehlin) found me a bunch of times so I give the credit to them,” said Burton.

“It’s easy to knock down an open shot when you have guys who can get in and find people who are open.”

Pennsbury senior Addison Howard steadied the ship with eight points in the second period while forwards Mark Flagg and Joey Monaghan added four points apiece, drawing the Falcons within a dozen by the intermission.

But Howard slipped and got hurt in the second half and 6-8 forward Billy Warren didn’t see the floor after the first quarter so it was a tough night for Pennsbury, which also lost last week in quadruple overtime to sister school CR South.

“That first quarter really came back to haunt us at the end,” said Flagg. “We got back into the game with our pressure but it wasn’t enough.”

The Falcons did get back into the game using defensive pressure, holding Rock to just 13 points in the second and third quarters, combined. Indeed, a 3-pointer by North senior Eric Levine with 2:40 remaining in the third period was the Indians’ first basket since a layup by Kosyla with two minutes left in the second.

Pennsbury began the second half with a 7-0 run and finished it off with a 4-1 scoring string to make this a 5-point game heading into the fourth quarter.

Flagg did his best to draw the Falcons closer coming up with a block of a shot by Burton and a pair of made foul shots to keep Pennsbury within reach at 39-33.

Rock responded with a jumper by Burton and a couple of free throws by Kosyla to expand its edge back to 10, then Levine found James streaking to the basket for another layup.

With 1:58 to go, Coleman figured he had nothing to lose by inserting his backups. Surprisingly, the reserves brought the Falcons back within single digits with 48 seconds to go after 3-pointers by seniors Andre Burch and Corey Dea.

In the end, Pennsbury’s shooting touch just wasn’t there with the Falcons making just 2-of-12 shots in the final frame.

The Indians certainly didn’t help their cause late in the game with a 5-for-14 shooting performance from the foul line. For the game, North shot 11-for-26 from the stripe.

Still, with 1:28 remaining the Rock student section began the chant “We want playoffs,” and the Indians want to give the fans their wish. Since that initial loss to Pennsbury on Jan. 5, North has won five of its last seven including a 47-44 triumph over sister school South Jan. 17 on the Hawks’ home court.

“The first practice, the coach said ‘we want to be peaking going into February’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Kosyla. “I wouldn’t re-do the season any other way.

“We started off the season really just practicing with each other for the first time. I think that’s part of the reason why we got off to a 3-10 start. Now, we’re starting to gel together and we’re back on track and ready to go in the playoffs.”

On this night, the home team just wanted to focus on this one. The boys raced to the locker room in celebration after the win.

“It’s a great win and it helps us get to the district playoffs – which is our ultimate goal,” said Burton.

“Pennsbury is a great team – they’re well coached – and it just feels good to get a ‘W’ on our home floor.”

The Falcons, who drop into third place in the SOL National Conference, have little time to regroup. Pennsbury plays Truman at home Thursday night then finishes the regular season Tuesday Feb. 7 with a battle against Bensalem, also on its home court.

The Indians travel to non-league rival CB West Friday night before finishing their season Feb. 7 at Truman.

Council Rock North 50, Pennsbury 40

(Jan. 31 at CR North)

CR North              23 9 4 14 – 50

Pennsbury          4 16 11 9 – 40

COUNCIL ROCK NORTH (7-12, 5-6 SOL National) — Drew Burton 6 2-3 17, James Kosyla 7 3-5 17, Noah Ehlin 1 0-1 3, Eric Levine 2 1-2 6, Tyler Shields 0 2-2 2, Brady Haggerty 0 2-4 2, Harry Wyatt 0 1-4 1, Angad Ahluwalia 0 0-2 0, Tommy Boyle 1 0-3 2; TOTALS — 17 11-26 50.

PENNSBURY (13-7, 6-4: SONL) — Addison Howard 2 3-3 8, Vaughn Ward 2 0-0 2, Gary Francis 0 1-3 1, Billy Warren 1 0-0 2, Tyler Sessa-Reeves 2 0-2 5, Joey Managhan 2 2-2 6, Mark Flagg 3 4-5 10, Andre Burch 1 0-0 3, Corey Dea 1 0-0 3; TOTALS — 13 10-15 40.

3-POINT GOALS: CRN — Burton 3, Levine, Ehlin; P — Howard, Sessa-Reeves, Burch, Dea.

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