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Council Rock North’s strong second quarter key in win over Lower Moreland

LOWER MORELAND >> Council Rock North boys basketball coach Jess Krasna knew it would be a matter of time.

It took a few weeks, but the Indians have started to heat up. Wednesday, playing for the third night in a row, Council Rock North showed its newfound level during a strong second quarter that turned the tide of the game against an inexperienced but scrappy Lower Moreland side.

The host Lions made things as tough as possible in the second half, but CR North would pick up a 51-39 win to close its tiring stretch of schedule.

“Our kids came ready to play,” Krasna said. “It’s been a challenging week on a lot of fronts, we had two tough games Monday and Tuesday and you never know how your kids are going to come out but it’s one thing that’s been constant with these guys all year is their effort and energy.”

For Lower Moreland, the Lions are hoping it’s also a matter of time. After losing double-digit seniors from last year’s BAL champion, District 1-4A champion and PIAA 4A semifinal team, the Lions basically had to start from the ground up this winter.

With just two guys back who even sat on the varsity bench last year, there’s been a share of hills and valleys so far this season. Longtime coach Seth Baron said the team started the year a little slower than he would have liked, but right after the holiday break, it seemed to find something.

“They are in the process of learning how to compete and play at an urgent level and I’ve really been getting that the last three to four weeks,” Baron said. “It’s been awesome. You saw in the second half tonight what I’ve been getting out of these guys for multiple weeks and it’s been a pleasure working with them on that.”

The Lions (5-7, 4-2 BAL Independence) started the game well on Wednesday, building a 10-4 lead with three minutes left in the opening quarter. Krasna felt his team was a little slow at the start and credited Lower Moreland’s preparation defensively for taking away a lot of the easy looks that had been fueling their run of strong shooting.

If not for Connor Rushing, the Indians (3-8, 1-3 SOL National) may have found themselves behind even more. Rushing, a junior forward, carried his team in the first quarter by driving to the rim hard and scoring all 11 points for CR North including a three-point play that put the guests up 11-10 after eight minutes.

“He’s a kid who can do things on the court that are special and not many kids are able to do,” Krasna said. “To his credit, he’s been really patient this season earning his role. He’s really worked hard and he’s a playmaker which sometimes means scoring and sometimes means setting up his teammates.”

CR North got loose in major way during the second quarter. Rushing didn’t score a point in the frame but he didn’t need to as his teammates got on a roll and never really slowed down. Picking up from the 7-0 run to end the first, CR North won the second frame 18-2 to end the half on a 25-2 run.

Bernie Parent buried a three to open the quarter and hit all four of his shots for a 10-point frame while the Indians as a team went 7-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-6 from long distance.

“The ball’s been moving a lot better the last couple of games,” Krasna said. “When you move the ball and nobody cares who scores, you get really good shots. We have a multitude of good shooters and when we get each other open, there’s a good chance it’s going to go in.”

Lower Moreland got lost a few times defensively in the quarter, but it was more of a glitch given the team’s play of late.

“Urgency is the word I’m hammering into them, they didn’t show it in the second quarter but the second half, they did,” Baron said.

After halftime, the Lions spent the rest of the game in an aggressive full-court trapping defense that at times flustered CR North. LM didn’t get a ton of shots to fall in the third quarter, but it was able to slow down the Indians’ offensive pace.

Baron isn’t asking his players to be flawless, but if they do make a mistake, his hope is they learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Aside from urgency, his other keyword for the season is execution and he noted that’s something that only comes from the repetition these players haven’t built up yet.

“They’re thirsty to be great, they want to learn and want to get better,” Baron said. “John Przybylinski, our lone senior, wants to be the man, wants to have the ball. It was tough last year sitting behind that group but he’s emerged as a leader on this team and seeing these guys grow in those varsity roles has been a pleasure.”

Lower Moreland has a good balance of sophomores and juniors in the starting lineup and top bench group. They haven’t been far off in a couple of games since the holiday break and have plenty of time to keep building those reps although Baron stressed he’s only worried about the next game ahead.

“I’m optimistic about where we’ll be,” Baron said. “If they keep growing the sense of urgency, which has already been a high level, and continue to get the repetition, the execution will come.”

Despite being pressured for 16 minutes in the second half, the Indians never let Lower Moreland get on a big run.

“We got up 15-20 points and Lower Moreland just kept coming at us, so it was great for us to be able to face that leading into our next game against Bensalem,” Krasna said. “Our guys have been making shots. When we play together and play aggressive, we’re tough to stop.”

COUNCIL ROCK NORTH 51, LOWER MORELAND 39
COUNCIL ROCK NORTH 11 18 9 16 – 51
LOWER MORELAND 10 2 7 20 – 39
Council Rock North: Bernie Parent 6 0-0 14, Luke Vliet 4 3-5 12, Sean Mealey 0 1-2 1, Hunter Wan 3 0-0 7, Connor Rushing 7 1-1 15, Logan Saifer 0 1-2 1, Austin Stalker 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 7-12 51.
Lower Moreland: John Przybylinski 4 2-2 11, Justin Sandler 2 0-0 6, Joey Morozin 1 0-0 2, Jack Doneker 3 0-0 9, Eyal Khaikin 2 0-0 5, Andrew Ung 2 0-0 6. Totals: 14 2-2 39.
3-pointers: CRN – Parent 2, Vliet,Wan; LM – Doneker 3, Ung 2, Sandler 2, Przybylinski, Khaikin.

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