Owen J. Roberts mounts come back over Upper Perkiomen

RED HILL >> Owen J. Roberts senior Sam Cerimele isn’t sure where Wednesday’s win over Upper Perkiomen ranks in his basketball career.

All he knows is he can’t recall a comeback quite like the one his team pulled off.

After trailing by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, the Wildcats put together a rally to come away with a 52-42 victory over the Indians at Upper Perkiomen High School.

“I would say that’s definitely one of the best basketball games I’ve been a part of,” Cerimele said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Owen J. Roberts-Upper Perkiomen Boys Basketball 2.10.21

Upper Perkiomen led 28-9 in the second quarter before OJR outscored the Indians, 43-14, over the final two and a half quarters for the Pioneer Athletic Conference crossover win.

Cerimele scored a game-high 22 points, and Jake Bolyn scored 17 to shoulder the scoring load for the Wildcats. Adam Shaak scored 17 and Jack Cupitt 14 for the Indians.

“We all rallied together. We didn’t get down,” Cerimele said. “And I think that’s been a theme all year. In the locker room, before games, halftime, there’s no quit in this team. There’s way better leadership this year, and our team’s just able to rally around each other. We feed off each other rather than the outside like the coaches, fans or anything like that.”

Upper Perkiomen’s Adam Shaak, right, puts up a layup as Owen J. Roberts’ Chase Johnson defends. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Shaak scored 17 of Upper Perk’s first 28 points to help build the 19-point advantage and put the Indians in good position for their first win of the season.

A 9-0 run by OJR to end the second quarter closed the gap to single digits, 31-22, by halftime. The Wildcats made it 17 unanswered with eight straight points to begin the third quarter, closing the gap to one, 31-30, with 4:49 to play in the period.

Chase Johnson scored with two minutes left in the third quarter to put OJR ahead 35-33 and the Wildcats never relented the lead after that.

“I think our guys they’re hurt, myself included,” Upper Perk coach Brandon Hibbler said. “That was one we kind of let slip, but we’ll be back tomorrow. We have Perk Valley here. It’s kind of the same thing. We play man-to-man and you have to grind it out and play 32 minutes of basketball. Tonight we played 18 or 20. Now it’s a matter of playing 32.”

Bolyn’s nickname is ‘Gas,’ which stems from a senior two years ago calling him the wrong name. On Wednesday, it could have easily referenced how easy it is for him to catch fire.

The sophomore sharpshooter scored 15 of his 17 points after halftime, including 10 in the third quarter when he knocked down three 3-point shots. He added another long ball in the fourth as OJR pulled away.

“I was just heating up,” Bolyn said. “Once I made one, I was just going from there.”

“His threes were really clutch, really turned the momentum and there was no turning back from there,” Cerimele added.

Owen J. Roberts’ Jake Bolyn drives toward the lane against Upper Perkiomen. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

The Indians trailed 38-35 entering the fourth quarter and cut that down to one twice in the final period, but they couldn’t string consecutive baskets together to retake the lead.

After allowing 24 points in the first quarter, Owen J. Roberts’ defense held Upper Perk to 18 points in the final three periods, including just four in the third.

The length of Brody Bolyn, who scored five points, and Preston Brindle, who finished with five, made things difficult inside for Upper Perk.

“Just toughness, kind of at halftime (we) turned it around, and way better defense,” Cerimele said of the keys to the comeback. “Our coach always says hold them under 50 and we win, and that was the goal going out of halftime.”

“We just focused on defense, got some steals and stops,” Bolyn added.

Upper Perk spent 11 days without games from Jan. 16-26 due to a COVID-19 exposure in the program. The Indians have been depleted since, having as few as 14 total players in the program available at one moment. Shaak and Nick Aron, who scored six points Wednesday, were two who missed time.

This was the first week they’ve returned to close to full strength, which has Hibbler optimistic about the rest of the season and the future of the program.

“Our hustle’s good, our effort’s good, it’s just a matter of possession,” Hibbler said. “Every possession at a time matters. The first one in the first quarter to the last one in the fourth quarter. Until we get guys to understand that and get to understand the game of basketball, it’s going to be a tough sled. But we’re all juniors, we had no offseason. This group’s a special group. We’re going to put a lot of wins together.”

The Wildcats’ schedule was also impacted by COVID-19 as they hadn’t played a game since Jan. 29 before Wednesday’s contest. The win broke a three-game skid that included a 50-47 loss to Perkiomen Valley.

“We’re all just happy to play, to get out here,” Cerimele said. “We know not to take anything for granted because we know it could get should down or anything like that, so we’re having a lot of fun.”

Notes >> OJR freshman guard Luke Fryer (12.2 ppg) is out for the rest of the week after rolling his ankle during practice.

Upper Perkiomen’s Jack Cupitt (22) goes up for a shot as Owen J. Roberts’ Preston Brindle (32) and Brody Bolyn (33) defend. (Owen McCue.- MediaNews Group)

Owen J. Roberts 52

Upper Perkiomen 42

OWEN J. ROBERTS: B. Bolyn 1 3-3 5, Cerimele 7 8-11 22, Johnson 2 0-1 4, J. Bolyn 5 2-5 16, Brindle 2 0-0 5, Z. Fryer 0 0-0 0, 17 13-20 52.

UPPER PERKIOMEN: Aron 2 2-2 6, Rehiel 0 0-0 0, Shaak 6 3-3 17, Hurlbrink 1 0-0 2, Clancy 0 0-0 0, Reig 1 1-1 3, Cupitt 5 2-4 14, Carpenter 0 0-0 0, Keyser 0 0-0 0, Totals 15 8-10 42.

Owen J. Roberts 9 13 16 14-52
Upper Perkiomen 24 7 4 7-42

3-point goals: J. Bolyn 4, Brindle, Shaak 2, Cupitt 2.


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