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Holy Ghost’s Cianci ruins another near-miss Marple bid

For the second night in a row, a basketball team from Marple Newtown took one of the highest seeds in the District 1 Class 5A tournament to the limit.

This time it was on the boys side.

Steve Cianci hit a jumper from the low block with 9.1 seconds remaining to help second-seeded Holy Ghost Prep escape with a 41-40 come-from-behind victory over the No. 15 Tigers in the opening round Wednesday night.

A night earlier, the 15th-seeded Marple Newtown girls team took No. 2 Penn Wood to six overtimes before falling, 85-75.

Justin DiBona hit a bank shot with 38.9 seconds left to put the Tigers up, 40-39. Holy Ghost worked the ball to Cianci to take the lead and then Cianci blocked Marple Newtown’s final attempt to seal the victory for the Firebirds (20-3), who host seventh-seeded Penn Wood, a 46-38 winner over Academy Park, in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Cianci led the Firebirds with 14 points.

Holy Ghost turned up the heat on defense in the fourth quarter to erase a 36-30 deficit. The Firebirds held the Tigers to one field goal and four points in the final period.

Ben Davis paced the Tigers (9-14) with 12 points. Michael Tansey and Brian Straub chipped in with nine points each.

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