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North Penn uses strong 2nd half to upset CB West in District 1-6A 1st round

DOYLESTOWN >> An overtime half-court buzzer-beater gave North Penn the 24th and final seed in the District 1-6A boys basketball tournament.

The Knights, however, did not need anything as dramatic to knock off No. 9 Central Bucks West 57-47 in the first round Friday night.

“We’re a streaky team I feel like,” North Penn’s Matt Swanson said. “Once we started losing, then we’ll lose again and then if we win we’ll stay hot. We’ll stay hot and right now we’re hot.”

North Penn regrouped in second quarter from a slow early start, cut the Bucks lead down to 25-22 at the at the break then took control in the third. Kolby Barrow’s three just ahead of the buzzer had the Knights up 38-31 entering the fourth and North Penn (10-13) hit a few more clutch triples to earn its second first-round win in three seasons.

“We kind of started slow, started on our heels, they throw the first punch and I told the kids I was really proud of the way we responded,” Knights coach John Conrad said. “We cut it to three at half and then I thought we played really good defense and then we were unselfish on the offensive end.”

Swanson scored North Penn’s first seven points and finished as one of four North Penn players in double figures, posting a game-high 15 points.

Josh Jones added all 13 of his points after halftime. Barrow had 10 points while Joey Larkins collected 10 points as the Knights advance to visit No 8 Pennridge in Tuesday’s second round. NP topped the Rams 57-54 in its regular-season finale Feb. 6 as Swanson hit his midcourt shot at the end of overtime.

“I told my guys today we’re not playing with any fear from now on,” Swanson said. “That’s what I feel like helped us a lot today, we came out first quarter with a little bit of fear then we knocked it off I guess and played our basketball.

“But we’re not fearing anyone, we’re not fearing Pennridge, we’ve played them twice, two close games and we’re just comfortable again with Pennridge.”

Mika Munari and Jack Neri each scored a team-high 13 points while Ted Spratt chipped in 11 points for CB West, which dropped its district opener for the first time since 2017 to end the season 15-9.

“To have 10 seniors and the way they went  through the year, loving each other and just having great relationships and great experience with each other, we got to hang our hat on that,” Bucks coach Adam Sherman said. “It was a winning season, unfortunately we didn’t get it to end the way wanted it but bigger picture these guys definitely have a bond that’ll stay with them forever.”

Down three at halftime, North Penn began the third quarter with five straight points – a Swanson bucket giving NP its first lead at 26-25 with another two from the senior making it 28-25.

Spratt’s three-point play tied the contest 28 but North Penn scored the next seven and never trailed the rest of the way.

“We just had to settle down,” Swanson said. “I think we just didn’t know what we were expecting there the first quarter. We just wanted to do our thing, we just wanted to run our plays, we weren’t executing well in the first two quarters and then just had to come out and play our game.”

In the fourth, North Penn blew things open with an 8-0 run – Jones and Larkins hitting consecutive threes with a Rob Carangi basket putting the Knights up 14 at 49-35. From there the Bucks could only get as close at 10.

“We made a couple mistakes and we didn’t really do a good job of recovering from them,” Sherman said. Third quarter is really what hurt us. They played that 1-3-1 (zone) and we knew they were going to play it we worked on extensively all week.

“The hard part is we had guys with bats trying to simulate their length and it’s hard to simulate their size across the middle there between Swanson, Jones and Carangi. It’s hard.”

West jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the opening quarter after a Dan Miller 3-pointer. A Spratt bucket on a drive had the Bucks up 16-6 before a Swanson free throw at 22 seconds and Barrow’s buzzer-beating runner made it 16-9.

“We were down early cause of the crowd, like the atmosphere,” Swanson said. “You just got scared a little bit, I guess, got a little bit too. Down on ourselves then we just started playing our game. We wanted to leave it all out there, like we did against Pennridge and that’s what we started doing.

“We started out-working them, out-hustling them, running our stuff and we just used our bodies more than them. We got boards.”

Two Munari free throws had West leading 22-15 with 4:18 left in the second quarter but the Knights’ 7-2 burst had the visitors within 24-22 after a Barrow trey. Spratt’s free throw with 19.3 seconds left had the margin at three at halftime.

“Our defense really started to lock down,” Swanson said. “Our zone was, feel like for a little bit, there no one could score on us. And I guess shots started to roll and all that.

Tied 28 in the third, Larkins drew a foul on a drive and hit both from the line at 3:38. Jones hit a transition runner off a steal to make it 32-28 with a Barrow three extending the lead to seven.

An Owen Haney triple had West within four but Barrow capped the third draining a triple from the right corner.

“Again, there’s a three-sport athlete,” said Conrad of Barrow. “He’s been in the fire before. He played probably his best game tonight. He played really well and again I think that’s just because he plays multiple sports and he’s been there.”

A Neri three had the Bucks down 41-55 in the fourth but Jones and Larkins responded with treys to push the NP advantage to a dozen. Carangi’s basket gave the Knights their largest lead at 49-35.

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