UPPER DUBLIN >> Plymouth Whitemarsh’s win Tuesday night wasn’t as convincing as its first two victories this season, but the Colonials remained undefeated after holding off Suburban One League Liberty Division rival Upper Dublin, 57-51, at Upper Dublin High School.
Plymouth Whitemarsh, which beat Quakertown by 52 points and North Penn by 46 in the first two games this year, held a comfortable 12-point lead heading to the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals didn’t go down without a fight.
Upper Dublin started the final quarter with a 7-2 run to get within seven, 46-39, with four-and-a-half minutes to play. Drew Stover scored nine points in the fourth quarter and Colin O’Sullivan added seven to get the Cardinals within four, 52-48, with less than 90 seconds remaining, but that’s as close as they’d get.
PW’s David Harris went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line and Pat Flynn broke free for a layup in the final minutes to get the Colonials to the final buzzer with a 57-51 win.
“If you have a 10-to-15-point lead and you leave a team hanging around long enough then you have a choice to make,” PW coach Jim Donofrio said. “You have some foul trouble – what do you want to do with it? No matter what combination we went with we didn’t have the knockout punch. If you don’t have the knockout punch then you see what you’re made of. I thought we made some nice plays at the end. We had a nice stop or two, got some run-outs, good lesson for us.
“My shots weren’t going for me, my offense wasn’t clicking,” PW senior Luke DiCianno, who scored six points in the fourth quarter, said. “We were just focused on defense, really.
“I was really trying to stop their fast breaks and not them get the little passes off to Stover.”
Turnovers played a big role in the game’s momentum. Upper Dublin turned the ball over 20 times over the first three quarters versus just two times in the fourth.
“Everybody knows coming in how PW plays stylistically, relying on turnovers,” UD coach Chris Monahan said. “They won their first couple games by 40-plus points. We just didn’t take care of the ball enough. We put ourselves in bad spots. We dug ourselves a hole and by the time eventually we started figuring it out … we just ran out of time. It’s a lesson learned.
“We’re down four late. We get a steal to go down two and we miss a layup. We gave up offensive rebounds. All of that and it’s a close game. Clean that stuff up, eliminate just some of the mistakes, and we’re right there.”
The Colonials (3-0, 2-0 SOL Liberty) built their lead slowly over the first three quarters, winning the frames by five, four and three points, respectively.
A key stretch for PW came in the third quarter when Taji Hubbard and Marshall Baker came off the bench and scored back-to-back three-point plays. Hubbard got his three the old fashion way, scoring through contact at the rim and hitting his free throw. Baker hit a shot from the outside to put the Colonials ahead, 42-30.
Stover scored a game-high 27 points for the Cardinals (3-1, 1-1 SOL Liberty) and grabbed 13 rebounds.
“He’s averaging probably 28, 29 on the year and that’s four games,” Monahan said. “That’s a pretty decent sample size so far. He’s a force. He’s got a soft touch around the rim, can finish with both hands around the rim. He’s doing a better job this year establishing position. He’s doing a good job offensive rebounding and getting put-backs. He’s a problem for other teams.”
The senior center drew plenty of attention from PW’s defense, battling with Zuri Jerman and DiCianno in the paint for 32 minutes.
“It’s not an easy job,” DiCianno said of guarding Stover. “The gameplan really was to try and stop him from getting into the post. He’s dominant in the post.”
DiCianno led the Colonials with 13 points. Jaden Colzie joined him in double figures with 11 points and Qudire Bennett added eight.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 57, Upper Dublin 51
Plymouth Whitemarsh 15 13 16 13 – 57
Upper Dublin 10 9 13 19 – 51
PW: Z Hubbard 2 0-0 4, Colzie 5 0-1 11, DiCianno 5 3-6 13, Bennett 2 1-1 6, Jerman 4 0-0 8, Baker 2 0-0 5, T Hubbard 1 1-1 3, D Harris 1 3-4 5, J Harris 0 0-0 0, Flynn 1 0-0 2. Total 23 8-13 57.
UD: O’Sullivan 2 4-4 9, Ceresier 2 2-2 6, Stover 9 9-15 27, Lee 2 0-2 5, Fatiga 2 0-0 4, Kukla 0 0-0 0, Boutilier 0 0-0 0. Total 17 15-23 51.
Three-point goals: PW: Colzie, Bennett, Baker. UD: O’Sullivan, Lee.