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Penn Wood holds on to beat Frankford at the wire

PROSPECT PARK >> During a timeout with eight seconds to play Friday afternoon, Matt Lindeman addressed the Penn Wood huddle with a calm voice. He turned to his whiteboard, sketched an inbounds defense and joined the cacophony of assistant coaches offering last-second refreshers — not to reach, not to foul a shooter, etc.

Then Lindeman turned and watched the plan disintegrate quickly, only the front rim denying a contested jumper by Frankford’s Taleek Anderson and preserving a 48-47 win for the Patriots at the inaugural Big Game Hoops Holiday Showcase at Interboro.

That snapshot, one of dozens like it for the green team from Green Avenue, illustrated the two defining poles of the Patriots, of the double-edged sword of a moniker like “youthful talent.”

“It’s going to take some time to figure out how to play the right way, and then we can get to some of the things we were able to do last year,” Lindeman said. “They’re learning on the job, they’re playing hard. We’re going to have some mistakes, but as long as they keep a positive attitude, that’s what we really care about right now.”

The second-year coach has handled polar-opposite teams at Penn Wood. Last year’s squad featured a nine-man rotation of seniors. The leading returning scorer from last year’s trip to the PIAA Class 6A first round: Chris Nash, who scored 31 points in 18 appearances. That’s total. A staggering 95.3 percent of the Patriots’ scoring from last year went out the door with graduation.

So Lindeman is building from scratch, which is how you end up with 18 Patriots turnovers Friday. Last year, Lindeman said a timeout like the end-game situation would’ve involved tasking his seasoned lineup with how to deny the inbounds, then switching looks to throw the Pioneers off. With this group, Lindeman did everything short of physically positioning his defenders in the right spots on the floor, and even then one Patriot ran the wrong way initially, leading to a mad scramble that Frankford couldn’t capitalize on.

Yet for all the effort simply getting players used to varsity competition, Penn Wood is 4-3 in approaching play in a Del Val League with no established power. And the lack of a rigid hierarchy of scorers creates moments like the decisive sequence Friday, when with 55 seconds to play, Nash found Shad Kyem on a three-quarter court outlet for a lay-in off glass to put the Patriots ahead for good.

That was Nash, the team’s leading scorer this season who posted a game-high 22 Friday, giving up the moment to Kyem, who hadn’t hit a bucket all game and had attempted just three shots.

“When I saw him, I just wanted to open the ball up, to get everybody open and spread out,” Nash said. “I had to make a play for my team.”

Nash took the lead in many categories. He was 10-for-11 at the line while his teammates were just 4-for-15. He sunk Penn Wood’s only two 3-pointers to jolt them from a slow start that included five minutes without a basket to start the game. And he needed just nine field goal attempts to get to his game-high total as he continues to grow into the featured scorer role.

“I just feel like I had a lot of confidence and I do everything I can to make my team better,” Nash said. “I’m a leader on the team, the captain, so I’ve got to make everyone do better.”

Isaac Williams added eight points, as did Julian Holloway, who came off the bench to augment his total with seven boards and two blocks, providing a defensive spark.

“When we start off slow, I try to come in, give a little energy and try to pick my team up a little bit,” Holloway said. “We always need a little jumpstart. We started picking it up a little later, but it was too late. We need to do that from the jump.”

The teams went back-and-forth in a final quarter featuring three ties and three lead changes, after Nash banked home a halfcourt 3-pointer to end the third and get Penn Wood within two. Holloway hit a runner in the lane to put Penn Wood up 40-38 before Frankford rattled off a 9-2 run, capped by a lay-in by Kureese Rogers to put Frankford up 47-42.

Rogers and Mason Dennis scored seven points each. Seydou Ndiaye led the way for Frankford (3-5) with 14 points, and Jayquan Williams added nine.

Holloway answered as Makia Moore threaded a pass to him in the post, then Nash laid in a runner high off glass with his left hand to make it 47-46 with 1:26 left. After two missed free throws by the Pioneers, Nash pushed the tempo to Kyem for the final basket. And while the teams traded turnovers (brining the grand total up to 33 on the day) in the final minute, Penn Wood found a way to shake off the struggles and survive.

“We just have to move forward,” Nash said. “We’re not worried about the past. We just make everything happen so we can win.”

The lesson applied Friday, and it’s fits the Patriots journey all season.

At the Benedictine City Classic:

Haverford School 58, Calvert Hall 44 >> Christian Ray scored 20 points to earn a place on the all-tournament team as the Fords won their last two games in Richmond, Va.

Kharon Randolph returned from a one-game absence to score 15 points, and Jameer Nelson Jr. added 12 for the Fords (8-4).

At the Jameer and Pete Nelson Classic:

Coatesville 68, Chester 46 >> Michael Smith scored 12 points, Brian Randolph added 11 and Isaiah Schmidt chipped in a season-high nine, but the Clippers (1-4) were undone by 27 points from Jhamir Brickus.

Lower Merion 58, Academy Park 47 >> Derik Harrison scored 13 points, and Shermik Lofton paired 11 points with eight rebounds, but the Knights (1-5) fell after a 13-day layoff thanks in part to 24 points from the Aces’ Jack Forrest.

Naseim Harley paired eight points with eight rebounds and four assists, and Kamrohn Roundtree added seven points and 10 boards for AP.

Pennsbury 54, Episcopal Academy 45 >> Alex Capitano scored 13 points, and Matt Dade added 11, but the Churchmen (6-7) were outscored 37-20 in the second half.

At the William Allen Tournament:

Wilkes Barre-GAR 60, Springfield 55 >> Mike Webb rediscovered his scoring touch with 36 points, but he was the only Cougar in double-figures as the Cougars (4-4) fell in the consolation game. Webb was the game MVP for the Cougars.

At the Marple Newtown Holiday Tournament:

Mastery Charter North 65, Marple Newtown 35 >> Mike May scored a team-high 11 points to complement four assists and four rebounds, and Matt Peel paired eight points with six rebounds, but a 22-8 disadvantage in the second quarter sent the Tigers (5-3) stumbling in the championship game. May and Tommy Gardler (five points) landed on the all-tournament team.

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