North Penn hangs on in last minute, edges Souderton for 3rd straight win

TOWAMENCIN >> When things started going off-kilter in the final minute Friday night, AJ Catanzaro knew the North Penn boys basketball team could handle it.

“It was sloppy basketball there for a couple seconds but I feel like our team came together. We were like, ‘Yo, you guys stay poised,’ and that’s what we know how to do,” the senior said. “We got a lot of guys that played together for a while. We know how to stay poised when it gets hectic like that.”

It almost slipped away from the Knights but Souderton could not take it away and in a contest between Suburban One League Continental Conference sides trying to get into the District 1-6A playoffs, North Penn held on to claim a 48-45 victory.

“It was exciting, wasn’t it?” What a good atmosphere,” Knights coach John Conrad said. “Yeah, we missed a couple 1-and-1s but we dug in defensively got a couple of stops.”

North Penn gave Souderton an opening, come up empty twice on the front end of 1-and-1 free throws in the final 30 seconds. Big Red, however, could not take advantage and Joey Lindsay — who missed at the foul line at 29.5 seconds — made a both ends of a 1-and-1 with 3.8 seconds to go.

“Joey’s got a little moxie,” Conrad said. “He said to me I won’t miss another one and I told him I know.”

Souderton still had a chance to force overtime but Steve Luchansky’s long-distance heave was well off the mark.

“Not many words to be honest with you right now,” Indians coach Tim Brown said. “It’s a tough one to take but we got a big one coming up against (Central Bucks) West and you take down West and take down (William) Tennent we got a shot to make districts. So we just got to move over this bit.”

Catanzaro scored a game-high 16 points, 10 coming in the second quarter as the Knights (11-8, 5-5 conference) earned a third straight victory.

“One guy steps up every night when we win. It was just me tonight. I had the chance, I took advantage,” Catanzaro said.

Chris Coleman collected eight of his 12 points after halftime for North Penn, which has won five of its last six since a three-game losing skid.

“I think we’re playing better as a group. I think we’re playing less selfish and then we’re playing better defense,” Conrad said. “So those are pretty good ingredients.

Trevor Watts’ 12 points paced Souderton (8-12, 3-7), which has dropped its last two after a three-game win streak. Hanrahan and Dom Natale both finished with 10 points — Natale connecting on a trio of 3-pointers.

“Energy and effort was incredible all night tonight. Now, we turned it over 20 times, can’t win when you turn it over 20 times,” Brown said. “Hat’s off to North Penn, they did a good job pressuring us. But we got to do a better job of handling that pressure. Souderton came into Friday night 25th in the District 1-6A rankings, one spot outside the 24-team field, with North Penn sitting 21st.

The Indians have two SOL Continental games remaining, hosting Central Bucks West Tuesday then visiting William Tennent Thursday. Big Red beat both earlier this season.

“We were looking at this at a playoff game but ultimately you beat West again it’s going to give you a whole lot of points,” Brown said. “So we just got to keep looking at what’s in front of us and control what we can.”

North Penn has a non-league road game at Downingtown West 2:15 p.m. Saturday. The Knights finish at Central Bucks South Tuesday then are back home Friday against Pennridge — North Penn lost to both in January.

“As Coach Conrad said, we’re getting hot at the right time and that’s what we need,” Catanzaro said. “We’re going on a little bit of a run here tomorrow going into Downingtown, hostile area. But we’re getting hot at the right time. Tomorrow’s a big boost for us so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

A Catanzaro putback gave North Penn at 44-37 lead in the fourth quarter but 3-pointers from Natale and Luchansky pulled the Indians with 44-43. Catanzaro found Coleman inside for a bucket and 46-43 edge but Watts made it a one-point game again as he banked in a hook shot with 46 seconds remaining.

The Indians needed to foul four times to get North Penn into the bonus. After the Knights missed the 1-and-1 at 29.5 seconds, Souderton was called for traveling but North Penn was whistled for the same violation at 25.1 seconds.

Hanrahan made a baseline drive but David Robinson got a piece of his shot to have it come up short and the ball went out of bounds to the Knights with 11.2 seconds left. North Penn again could not hit a 1-and-1 at 9.6 seconds but the Indians tossed a long pass that went over everyone and out of play at 5.1 seconds. Lindsay then made two at the line and Souderton’s desperation toss was off-target.

“We knew that going in quadruple-header against Souderton’s always great. The atmosphere is great tonight,” Catanzaro said. “We knew that going in it was big game for both of us, they knew it, too, and everyone was going to go hard for the last 3.8 seconds.”

Souderton led 12-7 after the first eight minutes and 14-7 early in the second quarter after a Watts bucket but Catanzaro ripped off seven straight points to tie the game at 14.

“David (Robinson) does a lot for us underneath they doubled down on him and I just the guy that was open in the corner,” Catanzaro said. “I had a chance to hit a couple three and I took advantage.”

A Natale 3-pointer point had Souderton up 22-19 but Catanzaro answered with a triple while two AJ Mitchell free throw with 14.2 seconds had the Knights up 24-22 at halftime.

Watts made it 24-24 34 seconds in the third but North Penn responded with eight straight points for its biggest lead of the night at 32-24. Souderton, however, trailed 36-34 heading to the fourth after Hanrahan hit two from the line at 5.5 seconds.

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