WESTTOWN >> In a late-season game that will go a long way to determine the Ches-Mont League American Division championship, one would expect a spirited, up-tempo and hotly contested affair.
That certainly was true Wednesday night at West Chester Rustin High School as the host Golden Knights battled Unionville for the full 32 minutes with players diving for every loose ball and contesting each rebound with plenty of vigor.
The outcome was not decided until the waning seconds, when two long 3-pointers went awry and Unionville hung on for a very important 49-46 victory.
Unionville (5-1 league, 11-5 overall) shot a blistering 19 for 37 from the field and got some clutch late game free throws from point guard Jon Passarello to take home the win and boost its division title chances.
“We work with the coaches constantly on pressure free throw situations,” Passarello said. “We just try to block out all the noise and the crowd going nuts and just focus on making the shot. We really spend a lot of time on it and it really helps when you are in that situation. It’s just an awesome feeling to come in here and beat Rustin, especially since they got us at home earlier in the season.”
Rustin (5-2, 12-5) led 19-16 after the first quarter but Unionville took control of the game by outscoring the Golden Knights, 14-5, in the second with 6-foot-6 big man Logan Shanahan and Bryce Whitlock suppling some big baskets. Sean Neylon chipped in with two big first half 3-pointers and the Indians held a 30-24 lead at halftime.
Unionville still held a small lead at 41-36 after three quarters, but the Golden Knights were not going to go down without a fight, and Rustin did just that in the final frame. Bryce Pew drained a three ball and then drove the lane for a tough bucket and the Unionville lead was down to 45-42 with 4:31 to play.
The two teams then traded missed shots and the Indians had possession and decided to hold the ball with a little under three minutes to play. The tactic seemed to work when Passarello was fouled and hit one of two free thows to give Unionville a 46-42 lead with 1:06 to play. Rustin then misfired and Shanahan, who had 13 points to go along with eight rebounds, cleared the glass and the Indians brought ball up the floor with a four-point lead.
“We played really hard tonight and we ran our offense which gave us some easy baskets,” Shanahan said. ”We really wanted this game because it is getting late in the season and we knew we had to come in here and beat Rustin.”
Unionville went to the line again after a Dan Wethey foul and Passarello hit one of two free throws and the Indians held a 47-42 lead with 42 seconds to play. But Rustin was not done. The Golden Knights got a big jumper from Griffin Barrouk to make it a 47-44 game with 25 seconds to play. Rustin came down the floor and Barrouk was fouled on a 3-point attempt. The Rustin junior sharp-shooter hit two of three and it was 49-46 with 15 seconds to play. Barrouk and Pew led the Golden Knights with 12 points apiece.
After a Unionville timeout, the Indians inbounded the ball and Passarello was fouled again. This time he missed a pair and the Golden Knights had a great chance to tie the game, but 3-point attempts by Barrouk and Pew both misfired and the Indians danced off the court with a very big 49-46 win.
“We as a team, have to execute,” Unionville coach Chris Cowles said. “And the kids did a great job executing tonight. And Rustin is a very good team. They have some guys who can get their shot when they need to get it so it was a really good win for us.”
Unionville 49, West Chester Rustin 46
UNIONVILLE (49): Shanahan 6 0-0 13, Whitlock 4 0-0 8, Kucharzuk 2 0-0 5, Neylon 4 3-4 13, Passarello 3 4-8 10, Lenkatis 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 7-12 49.
WC RUSTIN (46): Pew 5 0-0 12, Reinheimer 0 0-0 0, Seelus 0 0-0 0, Petit 4 3-4 12, Barksdale 2 1-2 5, Wethey 2 1-1 5, Barrouk 4 2-3 12. Totals 17 7-10 46.
Unionville 16 14 12 8 – 49
WC Rustin 19 5 11 10 – 46
3-point goals: Kucharzuk, Neylon 2, Shanahan, Pew 2, petit, Baroud 2.
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