Bishop Shanahan advances to district semfinal; reaching for more

Downingtown >> With six seniors on their roster – three who have played varsity basketball since their freshman year – Bishop Shanahan is looking to make this PIAA post-season a truly memorable one.
So, minutes after the Ches-Mont tournament champs defeated seventh seed West Chester Rustin, 63-50, in the PIAA 5A District 1 boys’ basketball quarterfinals Saturday afternoon, wrapping up a state tourney berth, the No. 2 seed Eagles (22-4) were focused on unfinished business.
“Today’s win feels pretty good, but it’s just a first step for what we want to accomplish,” said Shanahan’s big man, 6-foot-7 senior Kevin Dodds, whose powerful scoring (18 points), rebounding and passing underneath was key to the Eagles’ victory Saturday. “We lost in the district semifinals last year, and we want to do better than that this time.”
Wednesday in the District 1 5A semifinals, Shanahan will play the winner of Saturday’s evening’s quarterfinal between No. 3 seed Chester and sixth-seeded Sun Valley. Wednesday’s contest, to be held at Temple University, will be Shanahan’s fifth district semifinal since 2011. The Eagles have lost in the District 1 semifinal the past two years.
On Saturday, host Shanahan grabbed the lead for good late in the first period and kept building on it, relying on some crisp passing, with the 6-foot-7 Dodds as the hub of the Eagles’ attack.
“He [Dodds] is our backbone,” said Shanahan head coach Ken Doyle. “He’s a good passer for a big man, and makes good decisions whether to pass or shoot.”
Dodds noted that he had a lot of assistance Saturday.
“We have good chemistry, trust each other on the court and play together well,” said Dodds. “All of our guards are good shooters.”
In the first couple of minutes, Shanahan fell behind 5-0, but gradually took control, taking the lead for good after Dodds and Joe O’Malley scored underneath to give the hosts a 14-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.
O’Malley finished with 17 points (nine in the third quarter). His father, Mike O’Malley, was a 1,000 point scorer for the Eagles as well as a key member of Shanahan’s PIAA state championship team in 1985, and was in attendance Saturday.
“It meant a lot having my Dad in the stands today,” said Joe O’Malley. “I want to carry on what he started [at Shanahan].”
Mike O’Malley, who went on to play basketball for West Chester Chester University, said, “There’s not a single kid on this team who has an [oversized] ego. None of them care if someone else on the team scores 20 points, or gets 15 rebounds, as long as [Shanahan] wins.”
Shanahan built on its lead in the second quarter, helped by treys from David Angelo and Phil Chenard, and led 28-22 at halftime. But the Eagles weren’t satisfied.
“We talked at halftime about moving the ball better,” said Joe O’Malley. “We felt we were getting a little stagnant on offense.”
O’Malley led the Eagles’ charge after halftime, converting four field goals in the third quarter. Early in the third period, he hit a trey from the left corner after a nice feed from Dodds to give the hosts a 32-22 lead. A few minutes later, O’Malley fed Thomas Ford underneath for a key basket, then following a Rustin turnover, Ford fed O’Malley inside to make it 38-26.
Rustin kept the game somewhat close, with outside shooting from Jake Nelson (15 points, including a trio of treys) and scoring underneath from Taj Asparagus (12 second-half points).
An early fourth-quarter Shanahan run made the score 56-38. With 4:41 left in the contest, Dodd’s dunk gave the Eagles a 58-41 lead and the gym rocked with the loudest cheers of the afternoon.
“I was impressed with our intensity today,” said Doyle. “We needed to move the ball better in some spots, but that [sharp passing] comes in waves.”
Rustin moves to the 5th-7th playoff bracket (seven teams advance to States), where they will get two games to qualify for a state tourney berth.
“We knew it would be an uphill battle today against Shanahan,” said Rustin head coach Keith Cochran. “They are not going to beat themselves. Our effort was good today, and we learned a lot, grew in defeat. Going forward, we can improve our execution a little better, but our players did everything I asked of them today, it just didn’t add up to a win on the scoreboard.”

Bishop Shanahan 63, West Chester Rustin 50
West Chester Rustin (50): Pew 3 0-0 6, Loserna 0 0-0 0, DeMarco 0 0-0 0, Asparagus 5 3-4 13, B. Barrouk 2 2-2 8, Wethey 0 1-2 1, G. Barrouk 1 0-0 2, Hickson 1 0-0 3, Batchelor 1 0-0 2, Nelson 4 4-4 15, Barksdale 0 0-0 0, Totals 17 10-12 50.
Bishop Shanahan (63): Ford 3 3-4 9, Dodds 8 2-3 18, Angelo 3 0-0 8, O’Malley 6 4-4 17, DiBeneditto 0 0-0 0, Chenard 4 2-2 11, Wilson 0 0-0 0, Ibarguen 0 0-0 0, Fongheiser 0 0-0 0, Dougherty 0 0-0 0, Glendenning 0 0-0 0, Filipone 0 0-0 0, Totals 24 11-13 63.
West Chester Rustin 11 11 14 14 – 50
Bishop Shanahan 14 14 19 16 – 63
3-point goals: Barrouk 2, Hickson, Nelson 3, Angelo 2, O’Malley. Chenard.

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