Plymouth Whitemarsh’s small lineup sparks win over Upper Darby in D1-6A quarters

WHITEMARSH >> Plymouth Whitemarsh found itself in an unfamiliar position Friday night.

The No. 1 seeded Colonials trailed No. 8 Upper Darby going into the fourth quarter of their District 1 Class-6A quarterfinal game at Colonial Elementary School.

After three lead changes in the first two minutes of the fourth, PW senior Alan Glover completed an old-fashion three-point play with 5:45 remaining to give the hosts the lead for good in a 70-58 win.

The Colonials will face No. 4 Central Bucks West in the semifinals Tuesday night at Temple University.

PW coach Jim Donofrio made the decision to start the fourth quarter without his star 7-foot-2 junior Naheem McLeod on the floor in favor of a smaller lineup. McLeod returned later in the fourth, but the guard-heavy unit forced four turnovers over the final eight minutes and won the frame, 23-10.

“Defensively, our whole philosophy starts with 90 feet of not just full, but pacing and creating the pace,” Donofrio said. “It’s nice to have that somewhere along the line and they did it well. They did it really well. It’s just when are you going to go to it and is it going to work tonight? We got lucky because when they had a couple turnovers that went cleanly out of bounds, that’s when I said OK, they’re not quite the same confident offensive unit they’ve been for 27 minutes.”

“In the fourth quarter (Donofrio) took his big off the floor,” Upper Darby coach Bob Miller said. “We talked about this. Their press was not going to bother us at all with the big on the floor and it didn’t. There’s no way they were going to be able to press us with the big on the floor. Once they went to the smaller lineup, then we had to go back to our normal way of handling pressure and we didn’t do it. I don’t know what happened. We just lost control.

“We were wondering when he was going to (use the small lineup). We spent a lot of time preparing for that. The fact he waited til the fourth quarter maybe we were a little fatigued mentally. They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason.”

Senior Ish Horn scored seven straight for the Colonials (26-0) after Glover’s and-one to make it a 59-52 and the Royals (18-7) never threatened again. Horn scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter.

Upper Darby’s Jalun Trent was in foul trouble all night. He picked up his third foul 6:09 left in the second quarter and PW immediately responded with a 15-4 run over 3:28 to take a 27-26 lead. His fourth foul came with 6:40 left in the third quarter.

“It’s just his presence in there,” Miller said of Trent’s impact. “He usually gets a lot of rebounds. He’s a good ball-handler. As you saw earlier, they paid more attention to him than anybody else on the team. He found other people and that’s how we got out to the big lead.”

The Royals came out shooting red hot. They hit six three-pointers in the first quarter and led by 12, 20-8, after eight minutes.

“Every coach worries that what if this team makes every shot no matter what you do,” Donofrio said. “That’s what that was. They played great. They’re tough kids and they’re not afraid of anybody. We’ve all seen this game before at every level. How mentally tough can you be when you need to be when you basically haven’t been tested in terms of close games but maybe three times? … We just had to find a moment … where we can platoon Nah, pull one of the bigs, and just pace it. I hoped we played the right moment with that and we were fortunate.”

“Everybody comes here, they’re going to play with everything they’ve got,” Horn said. It’s their last game. It’s our last home game. They were trying to get to Temple. Hearing your name at Temple is like going to the Super Bowl … We didn’t know they were going to make six straight (threes) in a row, but we knew they were going to come in with that type of energy. That didn’t surprise us. We bought up our energy. Every stop, the crowd got hype, got louder, it bought up our energy.”

McLeod and Ahmad Williams joined Horn in double figures for PW with 16 and 12 points, respectively.

Mamadou Toure led Upper Darby with 23 points. Magd Abdelwahab and Diby Keita each added eight.

This was the last game the PW boys basketball team will play at Colonial Gym at Colonial Elementary School before moving to a new gym next year. The Colonials closed the gym with a 51-game home winning streak.

Plymouth Whitemarsh 70, Upper Darby 58
Upper Darby 20 10 18 10 — 58
Plymouth Whitemarsh 8 25 14 23 — 70
UD: Trent 1 0-2 2, Toure 10 1-2 23, Abdelwahab 4 0-0 8, Greer 1 4-4 7, Keita 2 2-2 8, Wedderburn 1 0-0 2, Williams 1 0-0 3, Roper 2 0-0 5. Total 22 7-10 58.
PW: Horn 7 12-14 27, McLeod 8 0-2 16, Cooper 1 0-0 3, Ahmin Williams 2 2-2 6, Ahmad Williams 3 6-7 12, Glover 1 4-7 6. Total 22 24-32 70.
Three-point goals: UD: Toure 2, Greer, Keite 2, Williams, Roper. PW: Horn, Cooper.

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