Reddish leads Westtown to 5th straight FSL title

PHILADELPHIA – It was, after all, just the initial postseason step for the Westtown boys’ basketball squad. But Friday’s 75-57 triumph over Shipley in the Friends Schools League title game at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena was an important step nonetheless, according to head coach Seth Berger.

“We are happy with a Friends League championship any year. We aren’t thinking about anything else right now,” Berger said.

“We haven’t talked about anything going forward – we want to stay in the present,” agreed star guard Cam Reddish, who put on a scoring show with 34 points.

Even though the Moose topped Shipley by 25 in the only regular season meeting in mid-January, the rematch was a battle. By the second half, Duke-bound Reddish had a wad of tissue in a bleeding nostril and fellow Division I recruit Jake Forrester (Indiana) was on the bench with an ankle injury.

None of it, however, stopped Westtown (24-12 overall) from cruising to its fifth straight league championship, and sixth in the last seven years.

“It was a battle,” Reddish said. “It was important to get our confidence up. We’ve taken some tough losses throughout the season, so this one means a lot.”

According to Berger, the Moose will take the weekend off before turning their attention to the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) Tournament, which begins on Tuesday. Westtown is the two-time defending state champs.

“This gives us momentum for the state playoffs,” said up and coming sophomore guard Jalen Gaffney, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half.

Thanks to standout guard Sam Sessoms, Shipley hung with the top-seeded Moose into the second half, but Reddish and company steadily pulled away from there. Sessoms finished with a game high 22 points and 6-foot-10 center Ray Somerville added 13.

“We were in decent position at the half but (Westtown) opened it on us and we didn’t make enough stops down the stretch,” said Shipley head coach Phil D’Ambrosio.

“We haven’t been able to put together a solid four quarters against (Westtown). Clearly the game got away from us in the second half. It was a couple mistakes on our end, missed opportunities and shot selection wasn’t the greatest.”

A nice big-man matchup pairing Sommerville with the 6-9 Forrester never really materialized when Forrester hobbled off the court in the 2nd quarter. But another future Westtown star – 6-8 sophomore Noah Collier – filled in admirably. He finished with 14 points and led the way on the boards.

“I think someday Noah Collier has a chance to play in the NBA,” Berger predicted. “He can finish around the rim, rebound the basketball. He’s improved amazingly as a sophomore.”

The Gators (13-12 overall) scored the final eight points of the opening quarter to knot the score at 15-15, but that was the last tie. Reddish started the second with a pair of 3-pointers and then wrapped up a personal 8-0 mini-run with a tip steal and dunk. In all, the All-American scored 14 points in the quarter to help the Moose open a 33-24 halftime edge.

“Our kids started playing harder – it’s not any more complicated than that,” Berger said.

“Cam is like our motor,” Gaffney added. “When he is going, we are all going.”

Westtown then seized control early in the second half, and Reddish was at the center of it all once again. He hit a 3-pointer, scored on a drive and then dished off a pass to Collier for a reverse dunk. In all, the Moose scored 12 of the first 16 points to widen the margin to 45-28, and it ballooned to 20 at the end of the quarter.

“When Cam decides he is going to play hard on the defensive end, and attack the basket and make good decisions on the offensive end, he is incredible to watch,” Berger said.

“Cam is the best offensive player I’ve ever seen at the high school level, and he has a chance to be one of the greatest to ever play the game.”

Without Forrester, Berger leaned heavily on Reddish, but he also got more than enough quality play from Collier, Gaffney and T.J. Berger, who are all sophomores.

“It’s taken time because we have some young guys who were a little shy and were deferring a little bit. But now they are competing and fighting back,” Reddish said.

“Us younger guys have had to learn a lot, like how to play with the big stars like Cam and Jake,” Gaffney added. “We’ve been getting better and we are starting to win like we think we can.”

Westtown 75, Shipley 57

SHIPLEY – Owens 2 0-0 4; Sessoms 9 0-1 22; Gruzinski 3 0-0 8; Champion 3 0-0 8; Sobelman 1 0-0 2; Somerville 5 3-4 13. Totals 23 3-5 57.

WESTTOWN – Forrester 2 0-0 4; Gaffney 6 5-6 18; Berger 2 0-2 5; Collier 5 4-4 14; Reddish 11 8-8 34. Totals 26 17-20 75.

Shipley                                  15 9 12 21 — 57

Westtown                            15 18 23 19 — 75

Three-point goals: Sessoms 4, Gruzinski 2, Champion 2, Gaffney, Berger, Reddish 4.


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