Academy Park goes cold, shelled by Shanahan

DOWNINGTOWN >> All that stood between Davoughnte Brown and the basket was 40 feet of open hardwood Wednesday night.

In the closing seconds of the first half, the Academy Park forward picked the pocket of Bishop Shanahan guard David Angelo, stretched low to the ground to keep alive a dribble and eyed the open basket for a fast-break slam that would’ve offered consolation and momentum from an otherwise dour first 16 minutes.

That is, until the whistle blew for a double-dribble.

Bishop Shanahan’s John Kozinski throws down a dunk Wednesday night over Academy Park. Kozinski scored 19 points as Shanahan topped AP, 59-39, in the first round of the District 1 Class 5A boys basketball playoffs. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

It was that kind of night for the No. 13 seed Knights, who couldn’t get out of their own way in a 59-39 handling at the hands of No. 4 Shanahan in the first round of the District 1 Class 5A tournament.

In an affair that was rarely pretty, an Eagles first-half onslaught accrued a 33-14 lead sufficient to coast through some choppy waters after the break to secure a second-round date with No. 5 Rustin, which beat Glen Mills, 57-50, Tuesday.

The third quarter was the nadir for action. Shanahan (18-7) hospitably offered Academy Park a lifeline with just two points in the first five minutes of the half. The Knights didn’t oblige, hitting just one field goal in that stretch on a generally poor night.

The quarter hosted a combined 5-for-24 shooting effort from the field, including a ghastly 6-for-13 from the line and 11 turnovers. It was playoff intensity, but hardly a premier level of execution.

That quarter obscured a dominant first half by the Eagles that featured excellent defense, clinical transition offense and a sound gameplan executed beautifully. They led 18-6 after a quarter — thanks to Brandon Dearing’s banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer — and stretched the advantage to 29-10 late in the second, exploiting a lanky frontline with one big mismatch: Thomas Ford vs. a low-post defender.

The 6-foot-4 junior found himself shadowed by defenders more accustomed to the low blocks, allowing him to dictate tempo off the dribble and from the perimeter. He only scored two points, but he dished six assists, perpetuating the height advantage by feeding Kevin Dodds and John Kozinski at will.

PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop Shanahan vs. Academy Park

“We like to play like we’re the bigger team every game,” Kozinski said. “We knew we did have the size, so we were going to get it into our bigs as much as possible, which we did. That helps us set up our 3s with kick outs. That’s how we like to run our offense, inside-out.”

“If I’m not the main person on there, I always have other people on there,” Ford said. “If they’re on me really strong, I always have that second pass or the other look that I can always dish it off to. John Kozinski was just open tonight, and I could tell that he could get it in the hoop.”

Kozinski led all scorers with 19 to go with six rebounds and four blocks. His fellow forward, the 6-foot-6 Dodds, added 12 points and eight boards. Add 11 points from Danny Browne, the former Delco Christian guard, in the first half and Shanahan had a cushion to weather even a hideous third quarter.

Academy Park, meanwhile, showed the ill-effects of a 13-day layoff. But a squad that pushed Shanahan to overtime at this court in January scuffled more than an extended break can account for.

Academy Park’s Nick Simmons goes up for two of his 17 points in AP’s 59-39 loss to Bishop Shanahan Wednesday. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

The Knights (12-11) committed 22 turnovers. They shot just 25 percent from the field (11-for-44) and a paltry 4-for-22 from 3-point range. They barely cracked 50 percent at the line (13-for-24) and committed two lane violations, a level of sloppiness no layoff can account for.

Any momentum AP accumulated, beating Chester Feb. 7 and forcing overtime from Penn Wood Feb. 9, clearly floundered as they waited. (Shanahan last played Thursday, falling to Coatesville in overtime in the Ches-Mont title game).

“We’ve got a young team, so young teams have short-term momentum,” Brown said. “We’ll be pushing each other here and there, but when it comes down to it, a long period of time will cut down on our momentum.”

Nick Simmons needed 16 shots to get 17 points; he accounted for 15 of AP’s 24 through three quarters. He also shot just 2-for-12 from 3-point range. Second-leading scorer Nasiem Harley, who had scored nine or more points in each of his last 17 games, had a solitary free throw.

“It’s real frustrating knowing that our top two scorers are not scoring,” said Brown, who had four points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals. “We’ve got to try to pull up the weight. I know it falls on all of us, it’s not just those two, but it’s tough.”

Marq Greenwood added eight points, but with Shermik Lofton (three points) all but shut out by Shanahan’s height, it proved a long night for AP.

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