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Methacton rolls Harrisburg in PIAA Class 6A opener

Methacton’s Jeff Woodward (55) makes a pass over Harrisburg’s Nahleige Thompson in Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A game at Norristown. (Owen McCue - MediaNews Group)

After a dominant roll through the District 1 tournament last month, it was fair to question whether the Methacton boys basketball team would be able to sustain its red-hot play into the PIAA Class 6A tournament.

For a quarter and a half Saturday, the questions were warranted. But as they’ve proven all postseason, a dominant stretch is never far away for the Warriors.

Methacton put the pedal down with 14 unanswered points late in the first half and rolled on to another lopsided victory with a 64-38 wire-to-wire win over Harrisburg in their PIAA Class 6A opener at Norristown High School.

 

Senior Erik Timko finished with 18 points, while senior Jeff Woodward tallied 13 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks in the victory. Junior Nahleige Thompson and senior Davon Lee had 11 apiece for Harrisburg.

Methacton (27-2) will face District 12 third seed Abraham Lincoln, which defeated Bensalem 50-48, in the second round on Wednesday at a time and site to be determined.

“We felt pretty good,” Timko said. “I thought our coaches did a pretty good job keeping us ready and pushing us in practice and it showed.”

Methacton’s Erik Timko (55) drives past Harrisburg’s Amariah Blanton (14) in Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A game at Norristown. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Methacton opened its state playoff run similarly last season, cruising past District 2 champ Hazleton for a 64-42 win. The Warriors trekked about an hour and 40 minutes to that game after finishing as the seventh seed in District 1.

They needed to head just a few minutes down Germantown Pike for Saturday’s game at Norristown and enjoyed a near home-court advantage after entering the field as the District 1 champions this season.

Woodward said that’s not the only thing that was different this year.

After finishing as a state quarterfinalist in 2018-19, Methacton has been among the top-ranked teams in Pa. throughout this season. Following their impressive district title run, the Warriors know they won’t surprise any teams this year.

“Last year, in the local area, especially in the PAC we had a target on our back after winning it my sophomore year…but I don’t know how much recognition we had on the state level,” Woodward said. “This year, obviously with our run last year, winning District 1, winning our third straight conference titles, we have a big target not just from local teams but from everyone in the state.

“Everybody in the state knows who we are and how we play and everybody’s going to be gunning for us. The expectations are heavy, but I think we’ve been stepping up and producing and living up to the expectations so far.”

 

 

Harrisburg pulled within one, 17-16, just before the midpoint of the second quarter Saturday as Methacton’s offense was not sharp in the early going and the Cougars had success on the offensive glass.

As they’ve done many times this season, the Warriors flipped a switch. They ended the first half on a 14-0 run, capped by a three from Brett Eberly, to go into halftime up 31-16.

Eberly credited the swing to the defensive end of the floor. Harrisburg grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the first quarter. Along with Woodward, sophomore Cole Hargrove, junior Ryan Baldwin and senior Owen Kropp helped limit those opportunities over the next three quarters by crashing the glass.

“We knew in the second quarter, we needed to get defensive rebounds,” Eberly said. “I feel like two minutes into the second quarter, we started to pick it up and started getting defensive rebounds and that generated our offense and got us into the game. I feel like after that, we started pulling away and felt the rhythm and got back to the way we were playing. That helped us get there.”

Methacton’s Owen Kropp (2) switches hands in the air as he goes up for a shot over Harrisburg’s Nahleige Thompson (10) in Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A game at Norristown. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Timko also pointed to the defensive end when explaining the Warriors’ tendency to go on extended runs this postseason.

“I think it’s just our energy,” Timko said. “We bring a lot of energy, and we play great defense during those stretches. That kind of builds and gets our offense flowing, gets us easy baskets.”

Kropp, who had to leave the game early after getting hit in the face, added eight points for Methacton. Eberly chipped in with seven. The pair also dazzled with their passing Saturday as they opted more often than not to facilitate for their teammates.

 

The senior core was once again boosted by a sophomore duo that continues to impress during the postseason. Hargrove scored eight points, including two threes, and classmate Brett Byrne finished with seven points in the game.

Hargrove and Byrne combined for five consecutive points to end the third quarter, giving Methacton a 47-25 lead heading to the fourth. Byrne hit a three in the fourth as the Warriors pushed their lead as large as 30, and Hargrove helped them finish off the win in style, throwing down a fastbreak dunk late in the game.

“They’ve grown a lot this season, and you can see that in their game,” Timko said. “They’re a lot more confident, and they’ve been producing, being a big part of this team.”

NOTES >> Methacton scrimmaged Pennridge leading up to the state tournament last season before the two teams met in the quarterfinal round. During its week off this season, Methacton scrimmaged with District 1-5A champ West Chester East, whose 6-10 big man Andrew Carr plays AAU with Woodward, Timko and Eberly for East Coast Power.

Methacton’s Brett Byrne (11) is tied up by a group of Harrisburg defenders in Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A game at Norristown. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Methacton 64

Harrisburg 38

HARRISBURG: Cloud 0 0-0 0, McNeil 1 2-4 4, Natueur 2 3-4 7, Lee 4 2-2 11, Thompson 4 2-2 11, Williams 0 0-1 0, Houston 0 0-0 0, House 0 0-0 0, Blanton 0 0-0 0, Wall 0 0-0 0, Moore 2 0-0 5, Stanley 0 0-0 0, Totals 13 9-13.

METHACTON: Kropp 3 0-0 8, Eberly 3 0-0 7, Hopwood , Merola , Byrne 3 0-0 7, Hargrove 3 0-0 8, Timko 6 2-3 18, Trafford 0 0-0 0, Penjuke 1 0-0 3, Baldwin 0 0-0 0, Woodward 6 1-2 13, Totals 25 3-5 64.

Harrisburg 6 10 9 13-38
Methacton 12 19 16 17-64

3-point goals: Lee, Thompson, Moore, Timko 4, Kropp 2, Hargrove 2, Eberly, Byrne, Penjuke.

Methacton’s Jeff Woodward (55) goes up for a shot over Harrisburg’s Nateur Dennis (3) in Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A game at Norristown. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

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