Plymouth Whitemarsh tops Cheltenham, grabs No. 3 seed in District 1 Class-6A

WHITEMARSH >> Plymouth Whitemarsh and Cheltenham met for the third time this season Friday night. And for the third time, Plymouth Whitemarsh came away with the win.

This victory, a 68-60 win at Colonial Gym, makes PW the District 1 No. 3 seed in the PIAA Class-6A state tournament next weekend. Cheltenham is the No. 4 seed.

Cheltenham erased a 13-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to come within one, 59-58, with two minutes left in the game.

The Colonials extended that back to four, 64-60, and took over possession after senior guard Cheo Houston forced a turnover.

Junior guard Ahmad Williams faked a drive, backed up, wasted time and passed to Houston. After a couple passes back-and-forth — and valuable time ticking away — Houston saw an opening and took it. He drove into the lane and finished with a layup to put PW ahead by six.

“(Houston) was terrific in the end and so competitive,” PW coach Jim Donofrio said. “He showed great heart. Cheo — even though he’s a senior — he’s trying to figure out the game every day. Certain games the game lays out for him beautifully, but other games … they’re just one-gear guys — let’s go. It’s hard to realize at this level you have to do some down-shifting at times. I think Cheo when he’s on and when he’s defending on the ball like he can, it’s hard to take him out.”

Houston forced another turnover on Cheltenham’s ensuing possession and went end-to-end to make it an eight-point game and ice the 68-60 victory.

“Generally that’s what costs you games,” Cheltenham coach John Timms said. “When you’re going up against good teams it’s always going to come down to turnovers. Once we got it to that one possession, we had three straight turnovers and they put it back up.”

“I was upset with the way I was playing earlier in the game,” Houston said. “I got back in the game I just wanted to help my team out anyway I could because I let my teammates down for the last couple games.”

The Panthers needed to have a big fourth quarter to get back into the game — trailing 49-36 after three — and that’s exactly what they did.

Rodney Carson scored 10 points in the fourth, Trevonn Pitts five and Jack Clark four to help the Panthers cut their deficit to one.

“I think we waited too late to bring out energy,” Timms said. “Guys are a little down after the Temple loss and our practice was a little slow. The game actually went how our week went after Temple. The fourth quarter it was good to see us pick up our energy because now I feel like we’re ready to take that into the next stage.”

PW built its lead with a big third quarter. They led by three at halftime and came out on fire over the next eight minutes. Matt Walker hit three three-pointers in the frame — including one at the buzzer — and Williams put in six points.

Williams led the Colonials in scoring with 22 points — 16 coming after halftime. Walker added 16 and Ish Horn scored eight.

Carson and Pitts each had 16 for Cheltenham, Clark added 14 and Ahmad Bickley 10.

This was the last game either team will play before states start next weekend. Each team saw the seeding game in a different light.

“Very important game to kind of get Tuesday out of your system,” Donofrio said. “Next week is next week. The state tournament is the state tournament but you don’t want to lose at home. You don’t want two losses in a row. It’s about emotional and mental bounce back.”

“Positivity going into states,” Houston added. “We had a tough game against Abington and everybody was negative. We’re positive now. We played better.”

“It would have been important just for the storyline for the season,” Timms said. “To be able to say you went into PW and won and it would have been the 20th win. It would have been important for those reasons only. Once you get in states — it’s states. You’re going to have to play good basketball to win. So we know what’s expected. We’re just getting ready for states.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh 68, Cheltenham 60

Cheltenham 16 10 10 24 — 60

Plymouth Whitemarsh 17 12 20 19 — 68

Cheltenham: Pitts 7 2-3 16, Bickley 4 2-3 10, Clark 6 2-2 14, Myarick 1 0-0 3, Carson 7 2-3 16, Healey 0 0-0 0, Scott 0 1-2 1. Total 25 9-13 60.

Plymouth Whitemarsh: Horn 4 0-4 8, Tilghman 0 0-0 0, Breeden 1 0-0 2, McLeod 3 2-7 8, Cooper 1 0-0 3, Walker 6 0-0 16, Houston 3 0-0 6, Williams 7 8-12 22, Paul 0 1-2 1, Glover 1 0-0 2. Total 26 11-25 68.

Three-point goals: C: Myarick. PW: Cooper, Walker 4.


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