Faw’s fourth lifts Upper Merion over Strath Haven in District 1-5A 1st round

UPPER MERION >> It was the moment of truth.

Upper Merion’s basketball team had spent the bulk of the third quarter of its District One Class 5A first-round playoff game against Strath Haven building what would be an eight-point lead entering the fourth.

Then, in less than two minutes of playing time, the Panthers six-foot-eight senior John Harrar notched the first seven points of the final period.

Would the host Vikings stand or fold?

Thanks to Matt Faw, Upper Merion did the former.

Faw scored eight of his 20 points in the final quarter as the Vikings withstood the Panthers charge and pulled away to a 55-45 victory, putting Upper Merion into a showdown with top-seeded Chester Saturday afternoon at Chester.

“At that juncture I was thinking of all the ways it could have slipped away,” said Upper Merion head coach Jason Quenzer of his team’s moment of truth early in the fourth quarter. “But our guys did a great job staying strong, playing hard and staying in front.”

A big part of that was Faw, who in just his third game back after a foot injury kept him to just a handful of games this season, took over.

He scored the Vikings’ only field goals in the quarter, was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line and the Upper Merion defense did the rest.

“We talked about keeping (Upper Merion) confused on offense and I think we did that,” said Strath Haven head coach Dave McFadden. “But give credit to their defense. They got tough and then got the ball into their big guy.”

The contest was a chess match throughout, as the Panthers and Vikings used every strategy available to confuse the other.

The Panthers pushed the ball hard into Harrar (game-high 21 points) after the talented senior was held scoreless in the first quarter.

Upper Merion led, 23-21, at halftime as neither side was able to pull away from the other.

But the third quarter saw the Vikings open up a relatively sizable lead as Ethan Miller had seven points in the period and Faw added six.

But with their eight-point lead dissipated in less than two minutes of playing time in the fourth, Upper Merion needed a boost.

The Vikings got it from Faw and from Aiden Newell, who went 3-for-5 from the free-throw line as the Panthers fouled the Vikings at every opportunity.

But Newell and Faw scored just enough from the free-throw line to keep the Panthers at bay, and earn a second-round game.

“We had a chance to play for the Central League championship last week, and we weren’t able to get it,” McFadden said. “That would have put us in a good position where it would have taken two losses to knock us out (of the playoffs).

“But we’re happy with our season. We had very little varsity experience coming into this year and we still had a good season. We have to be happy with that.”

As for the Vikings, they’ll get to see what playing at Chester during playoff time is like.

“Hey, you’re talking about one of the premier programs in the state,” Quenzer said. “It’s going to take a perfect game to take them out.”

Upper Merion 55, Strath Haven 45
Strath Haven 8 13 12 12 — 45
Upper Merion 10 13 19 13 — 55
Strath Haven: John Harrar 9 3-3 21; Jeff Conner 3 0-0 6; Peter Foggo 2 0-0 4; Ryan Morris 1 0-0 3; Chris Rosini 0 0-0 0; Jordan Graves 3 1-2 9; Cooper Driscoll 1 0-0 2; Jimai Springfield 0 0-0 0; AJ Sandisi 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 4-5 45..
Upper Merion: Matt Faw 6 7-8 20; Aidan Newell 3 5-9 11; Ethan Miller 5 1-2 12; Anthony Shepperd 1 0-0 2; Joe Breece 0 0-0 0; Andrew Persaud 3 0-0 7; Brandon Higgins 0 2-4 2; Ty Chmelko 0 0-0 0; Timothy Biegalski 0 0-0 0; Robert McKernan 0 0-0 0.. Totals 18 15-23 55 .
3-pointers: Graves 2; Morris; Persaud; Miller; Faw.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply