FRANCONIA >> Pennridge has won four straight, and in doing so has displayed the fortitude necessary to get out of a tight spot.
“Our boys played with some toughness tonight,” Rams coach Dean Behrens said after his squad’s latest victory.
Pennridge overcame a seven-point, first-half deficit, found its way through a back-and-forth third quarter and took charge down the stretch, earning a 54-51 win over rival Souderton in a Suburban One League Colonial Division contest Tuesday night.
“It’s a huge win to keep our momentum going,” said the Rams’ versatile Colin Monahan, who scored a game-high 15 points. “We’ve been on a little bit of a roll now and to keep that going with a win over a rival like Souderton is great for us.”
The Rams lifted their overall record to 8-4 while pushing their division mark to 6-3, with one game to go – a road contest at Central Bucks South at 7 on Thursday.
“They kept coming at us,” Behrens said of the rival Indians. “But I thought the boys did a good job of executing defensively. We probably played more zone than we did all year, just to give them a different look.”
A drive to the hoop by Matthew Campione broke a 46-46 tie with four minutes to go and gave the Rams the lead for good.
Monahan was there when they needed him, scoring underneath to make it 50-46 with two minutes to play.
“We knew once they got down by a couple baskets, they were gonna come out and press,” Monahan said. “So (coach Behrens) said to handle the pressure, make free throws, and just be confident and calm with the ball.”
Pennridge did just that, and Luke Yoder’s (14 pts) steal and layup widened the gap to 52-46 with 40 seconds to go.
Aleks Smith scored for Big Red (1-7 Colonial), but a pair of free throws by Campione (13 pts) iced it.
Monahan’s versatility was key for the surging Rams.
“I know when they have a big guy on me, I can bring him out, take him off the dribble, and if they have a small guy on me, I can post him up too,” Monahan said.
The senior also made 8 of 10 free throws, which exemplified Pennridge’s strong performance at the line (20-of-26).
“He really stepped up. He can play guard and he can play underneath,” Behrens said of the senior. “So I got him guarding a big guy sometimes and then I have him playing point guard sometimes.
“He plays in the middle against that press where he can catch and turn and pass it and dribble. He’s multi-faceted offensively, which gives us some flexibility. I got him inbounding the ball too.”
Back and forth >> Monahan battled inside early for the Rams and a jumper by Colin Post helped provide a slim lead.
Souderton, which is at Central Bucks West next on Friday night at 7, closed out the first quarter strong however, as threes by Chris Towsen and Dylan Hollick (12 pts) found their mark.
Blair capped a fast break, helping Big Red to a 17-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Rams closed in during the opening stages of the second, a bucket by Greg Stumpo locking things up at 19 apiece.
Blair, who had eight first-half points, knocked down a three to make it 22-19 Souderton.
An off-balance jumper by Shaun Purvy sent Big Red dashing into the half, ahead 26-25.
Souderton’s District 1-6A Football Champions were then honored in a special ceremony at halftime.
The lead changed hands nine times in the third quarter before Yoder helped provide a burst for the Rams, who took a 39-34 lead and led 41-39 after three.
The teams would play to a 46-46 tie before Pennridge made its decisive move.
“We’ve been on a good roll. We’ve all been playing with a lot of energy,” Monahan said. “We’ve been having fun with each other and it’s a good time. It’s always great to win a close one.”
Pennridge 54, Souderton 51
Pennridge 10 15 16 13 – 54
Souderton 17 9 13 12 – 51
Pennridge: Matthew Campione 3 6-9 13, Colin Monahan 3 8-10 15, Luke Yoder 6 2-2 14, Colin Post 3 0-0 6, T.J. Grenda 0 4-5 4, Greg Stumpo 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 20-26 54.
Souderton: Evan Kutzler 2 0-0 5, Chris Towsen 3 0-1 7, Aleks Smith 2 2-6 6, Paul Vince 2 0-0 5, Shaun Purvy 2 1-2 5, Dylan Hollick 4 2-4 12, James Blair 3 0-0 7, Chase Scheuren 1 0-0 2, Jason Bonnet 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 5-14 51.
3-pointers: P-Campione, Monahan; S-Kutzler, Towsen, Vince, Hollick 2, Blair.