North Penn pulls away from Pennridge to clinch SOL Continental title

EAST ROCKHILL >> The last time the North Penn boys basketball team won a Suburban One League Continental Conference championship, it had to share the title with three other teams.

Friday night, the Knights made sure they kept the crown all to themselves.

Holding just a 41-40 lead over host Pennridge early in the fourth quarter, North Penn ran off nine straight points and pull away from there to claim a 61-50 to secure the outright SOL Continental title.

“I’ve only been with the program two years but I know how much this meant for coach (John) Conrad,” NP’s Reece Udinski said. “Being around him for two years, I know he’s put in so much time and work, I think this group really wanted to come together and do it for him and the coaching staff.”

Udinski finished with 15 points, including the last eight of the second quarter which put the Knights (17-4, 10-1 conference) up for good and sent them into halftime leading 25-22.

“It feels real good,” Ford said. “It started summertime. We came in, we had a rough road last year, took a tough loss to Ridley (in districts) by two. I was in the gym over the summer a lot and worked hard, worked hard, worked hard. I try to take leadership as much from my teammates.  I told them at halftime we got to put our foot on the gas and keep it going.”

David Giuliani added another 15 points while Ford had 12 points as North Penn picked up its seventh straight victory and first conference championship since 2013-2014 when NP, Central Bucks East, Central Bucks South and Pennridge tied for the top spot.

“It feels different, it feels special,” Conrad said. “It’s a great group of kids and I love being around them. Just happy for them.”

Noah Kwortnik’s steal and layup had North Penn leading 39-31 in the third but Pennridge scored eight of the quarter’s last nine points – Sean Yoder finding his brother Kyle Yoder for a bucket inside just before the buzzer to pull the Rams with 40-39.

A Kyle Yoder free throw at 7:09 in the fourth had Pennridge back within a point at 41-40. But Jon Post went to the bench when he picked up his fourth foul after a Ricky Johns made foul shot at 6:34 and when the Knights began the sprint away, the Rams could not keep up.

“I think we ran out a little bit of gas,” Pennridge coach Dean Behrens said. “Sean’s legs got a little bit tired and that one three he took was a good three but I could see in his legs it was going to be flat and I was like ‘Oh.” And it’s hard because taking Sean out of the game’s a tough thing.”

Udinski made both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 66-60 advantage. Ford went coast-to-coast for two off a steal while Chris Coleman’s tough finish at the basket gave the Knights a 50-40 lead.

“I think the tempo and defensive intensity kind of helped us,” Ford said. “(Sean) Yoder, we had to stop him. And Post, he had four (fouls), so he went to the bench and that kind of helped us out, but defense we played hard and free throws we made them when we need to.”

After a Tyrese Lewis-Eutsey breakaway dunk cut the margin to 50-43, Ford connected on a baseline one-hander to make it a nine-point game. North Penn then converted 7-off-11 free throws during a 2:26 span – the lone NP field goal in that time a Giuliani reverse layup – as the Knights took their largest lead at 61-45 with 1:47 remaining.

“It was funny, all of sudden I look up and it was 60-45, 15 points and it did, it seemed like it kind of happened on a pretty quick time frame,” Conrad said. “I give our kids a ton of credit and they just keep playing and coming at you. Just a great group.”

North Penn’s Chris Coleman stifles a shot by Pennridge’s Ryan Cuthbert during their game on Friday, Feb 3, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Post and Sean Yoder both had 13 points to pace Pennridge. The Rams were outright SOL Continental champs the past two seasons but this year they are just trying to secure a spot in the postseason.

Pennridge entered the week 21th in the district power rankings with 24 teams making the 6A playoff field. The Rams try to end the regular season at .500 with a non-conference matchup at Neshaminy Tuesday.

“I don’t know the scenario but I feel like if we win the game we get in the playoffs, but I don’t know.” Behrens said. “We’re going to practice tomorrow, we’re going to practice Monday, we’re going to do everything we can to win on Tuesday and let the situation play out.”

North Penn, which was seventh in the latest 6A rankings – the top eight seeds earn a first-round bye – caps its regular season Tuesday at home against Central Bucks East, the only SOL Continental team to beat the Knights this year.

A Giuliani transition three-pointer gave North Penn its first lead Friday night at 11-8 in the opening quarter. A Ryan Kinky jumper made it 11-10 but the Knights went ended the first eight minutes up 14-10 after a Johns basket inside.

North Penn’s offense stalled early in the second quarter, the Knight settled for jump shots that missed, allowing Pennridge to put together a 12-1 run to lead 22-15 after a Sean Yoder baseline jumper.

But the Knights got back into things with defense, their trap forcing the Rams into turnovers and NP ended the half with 10 consecutive points.

“We got off to a great start we’re up 22-15 and probably where I needed to do a better job is when they went to the 1-2-2 little half court or say three-quarter court trap, after the first turnover we have, I probably should of called time out,” Behrens said. “Cause we turned the ball over again and I probably waited one too many possessions on calling time out. I put the guys in a bad situation.”

After Giuliani’s two free throws at 2:46 made it 22-17, Udinski posted the next eight to give North Penn a three-point halftime edge.

The senior knocked down a three from the top of the arc then after a Giuliani steal he buried another triple, this one from the wing for a 23-22 NP lead. Udinski’s jumper in the lane off a drive extended the margin to 25-22.

“We have nine seniors on the team – me being one of them – and I think that at that moment we just looked to our seniors and it just happened to be me at the right time,” Udinski said.

Baskets from Giuliani and Ford put North Penn ahead 29-22 in the third but Pennridge was within two when a Post jumper in the lane made it 31-29. The Knights proceeded to score six of the next eight points, Kwortnik’s steal and layup giving NP its biggest advantage before the fourth at 39-31.

North Penn 61, Pennridge 50
North Penn        14 11 15 21 — 61
Pennridge           10 12 17 11 — 50
North Penn: David Giuliani 6 2-2 15; Reece Udinski 5 3-4 15; Lance Ford 5 2-6 12; Ricky Johns 3 3-7 9; Chris Coleman 1 5-6 7; Noah Kwortnik 1 0-0 2; Derek Heiserman 0 1-2 1; Nate O’Donnell 0 0-2 0. Totals 21 16-29 61.
Pennridge: Jon Post 61-3 13; Sean Yoder 5 1-2 13; Ryan Kinky 1 3-5 5; Kyle Yoder 2 1-2 5; Tyrese Lewis-Eutsey 1 1-2 3; Jordan Roehrer 1 0-0 3; Ryan Cuthbert 1 0-0 3; Ryan Warner 10-0 3; Nick Dunn 0 2-2 2; Mike Molettiere 0 0-1 0; Totals 18 9-17 50
Three-pointers: NP-Udinski 2, Giuliani; P-S. Yoder 2, Cuthbert, Roehrer, Warner.

Top Photo: North Penn’s Ricky Johns drives for the basket against Pennridge’s Ryan Cuthbert during their game on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply