Bensalem edges Downingtown East in OT to grab state berth

UWCHLAN >> So close, yet so far. That pretty much sums up the Downingtown East boys basketball team’s quest to make its first ever PIAA tournament Tuesday night.

The Cougars’ dream died at Robert Boyer Gymnasium as Downingtown East shot just one for eight in the overtime period and watched its season end with a 55-47 loss to Bensalem in the District 1 Class 6A playback bracket.

Bensalem clinched its first PIAA bid since 2011 and will host nearby neighbor Neshaminy Friday night to decide ninth and 10th place.

“I could not be any prouder of the kids in this program who are trying to put the program on the map,” Downingtown East coach John Goodman said. “We could not get a shot to fall in overtime and Bensalem (18-8) hit some big shots so it was not meant to be. But it was an honor to coach these kids who did everything we asked of them and the four seniors gave everything they had to this effort.”

Both teams had chances to win the game in the fourth quarter, but both the Cougars (17-9) and Owls turned the ball over late in the period, and after going 12 to 12 in the fourth period, regulation ended at 45-45. But Bensalem came out smoking in overtime and seized control of the contest, outscoring the Cougars 10-2 in the extra session.

Ward Roberts started the 10-2 period when he went hard to the basket and took a nice feed from Taco Douglas to make it a 47-45 game. Downingtown East came down the floor and missed a jumper and the Owls were off to the races again. Roberts went strong to the glass and got fouled. Roberts hit one of two free throws to make it a 48-45 game. Roberts led all scorers with 22 points and he was huge in overtime for the Owls. Douglas led the Owls in a assists with eight for the game.

“It was a great effort by both teams,” Bensalem coach Mike McCabe said. “We punched them, they punched us and then we came back again. They are a very talented team and I told the kids how well they played to win. We got the lead late in the fourth period and they roared back but in overtime we did a nice job and to go to states is a great feeling.”

With the Owls holding a three-point lead, the Cougars came up the floor but again missed two inside chances, one by Malik Slay, who led the Cougars with 16 points, and a follow by Taliq Kalim. The Owls got the rebound after the second Cougar miss and started to spread the floor and make the Cougars chase them.

The Cougars had to foul the Owls, who looked content to run the clock out, and Roberts hit two more from the charity stripe to make it a 50-45 game with just under two minutes to play.

The Cougars got the ball to big man Andrew King the next time up the floor, but King threw an errant pass that went out of bounds for the 15th Cougar turnover

“We have everybody contribute,” Douglas said. “It does not matter who scores, we all get in the action. To make the state tournament is a great feeling and tonight we played really well. we had to because Downingtown is a good team and we needed everybody tonight.”

Bensalem 55, Downingtown East 47, Overtime.
BENSALEM (55): Roberts 8 4-8 22, Douglas 4 2-4 10, Lieble 5 5-6 15, Parrish 2 0-0 5, Fossile 1 0-0 3, Shields 0 0- 0. Totals 20 11-18 55.
DOWNINGTOWN EAST (47): Slay 7 2-2 16, Hernandez 1 1-2 4, Robertson 2 0-0 6, Mujica 2 0-0 4, King 3 1-2 7, Kalim 4 1-2 9, Stata 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 5-8 47.
Bensalem 10 11 12 1 2 10-55
Downingtown East 11 8 14 12 2-47
3-point goals: Roberts, Parrish, Robertson 2, Hernandez.

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