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Smallwood’s last-second shot lifts shorthanded Pottstown over Pottsgrove

Pottstown’s Darius Smallwood (3) is congratulated by teammate Jahzeel Watson (4) after hitting a last-second shot against Pottsgrove on Wednesday. (Owen McCue - MediaNews Group)

POTTSGROVE >> Pottstown senior Darius Smallwood knew he’d have the ball in his hands in the final seconds of Wednesday’s game at Pottsgrove.

With fellow seniors Jahzeel Watson and Corey Cottman both on the bench — Cottman in street clothes and Watson fouled out — options were limited.

Though he’d had a quiet game up until that point, Smallwood proved the right man for the job, floating in a layup with 2.1 seconds left to give the Trojans a 58-56 win over their rival Falcons.

PHOTO GALLERY: Pottstown-Pottsgrove Boys Basketball 2.24.20

Watson led the Trojans with 18 points and sophomore guard Joneil Oister scored 14. Senior guard Shawn Majors poured in a game-high 20 for the Falcons with senior Luke Kaiser scoring 10 to join him in double figures.

“I did not want to lose, especially the last game against them for the very last time,” said Smallwood, who finished with eight points and a handful of blocks.

Pottsgrove’s Manny Allen, right, goes up for a shot against Pottstown’s Rashean Bostic. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

With his team trailing 56-53, Oister knocked down a three with 14.6 seconds left to tie the game 56-56. After a Pottsgrove turnover, Pottstown ended up with the ball underneath the Falcons’ basket with 7.8 seconds left.

Despite having just two of its usual starters out on the floor — Oister and Smallwood — the Trojans ran their inbounds play to perfection.

Smallwood inbounded to Oister and hopped in bounds before getting the ball right back. The senior forward took one dribble to his right before floating the ball softly off the front of the rim before it fell through the net.

“I was actually kind of confident,” Oister said. “The way that we had it set up with the people we had it set up with, I could obviously tell that they could come through and pull through what we were running. I had faith in Darius for making the shot.”

The Trojans rolled the Falcons 65-33 last Saturday and another rout seemed to be on its way Wednesday when Pottstown jumped out to a 9-0 lead.

Playing in its final crosstown rivalry game, a senior-laden Pottsgrove team wasn’t going to lay down this time. Sparked by a pair of threes by senior James Thompson, the Falcons responded with 11 straight points to take the lead and it was a competitive contest the rest of the way.

Pottsgrove’s Shawn Majors, left, goes up for a shot on Pottstown’s Elija Moore-Pamore. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Majors looked like he had the Falcons on the way to a victory with 1:24 to play when his three off a feed from Manny Allen gave Pottsgrove a 55-53 lead. Kaiser followed the play by taking a charge on the other end and knocking down a free throw with 34.7 ticks left to extend the advantage to 56-53.

After Oister tied the game and Smallwood put the Trojans ahead, Pottsgrove ran a pretty impressive play of its own to get a decent look at a three for the win, but the buzzer beater was no good.

Allen had eight, Thompson had six and seniors Zion Dyches and Nick Stringer both chipped in five for Pottsgrove.

“We really wanted this bad,” Majors said. “We haven’t been winning a lot this year, so this would be a big one against our rival but they upset us the last couple seconds.”

“I’m super proud of (our guys),” he added. “In the beginning of the season we couldn’t really come together and play together as a team, but our losses showed us and taught us how much better we are and we really have come together as a team.”

Majors’ 20-point night followed a 25-point outing in a win against Upper Perkiomen on Tuesday night.

After a slow start to the season, the senior is blossoming during the final stretch of his Falcons’ career, reaching double figures in four of his last five games while he comes off the bench.

“We had a conversation very early in the season, when he probably wasn’t playing as much as he’d like,” Pottsgrove coach Jack Flanagan said. “I said, ‘Who’d you rather have call out your name, the public address announcer at the beginning of the game or me in the last five minutes to win a basketball game?’ … Some guys want to be starters and some guys want to be finishers. That kid’s a finisher. For him to get that I think is the reason I want to coach or anybody should want to. He realizes that bigger goal that’s out there.”

Pottstown’s Rashean Bostic (0) shoots the ball over Pottsgrove’s Nick Stringer (10) as Luke Kaiser (22) and JR McMenamin (4) watch. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

The Trojans only had seven players suited up for Wednesday’s game with Cottman and sophomore Nyles Bunn-McNeil both out. They were down to five late in the fourth when starters Watson and sophomore Rashean Bostic, who had six points, both fouled out.

Sophomore Terryce Phillips and sophomore Elija Moore-Palmore both rose to the occasion with eight and six points, respectively. Senior Christian Albert also came off the bench to provide the Trojans some key minutes.

Stepping into Cottman’s shoes at the point, Oister helped keep the group poised throughout the game and down the stretch.

“I kind of had to take over a little because usually Corey has that role,” Oister said. “I stepped in and obviously stepped up. I actually had to play a bigger role than I thought because I had to make shots and make sure the team was in line and we got in foul trouble. I had to make sure everybody was still good and make sure everything was going right.”

Pottsgrove finishes with games against Pope John Paul II on Friday and Owen J. Roberts on Saturday, while the Trojans have just one game, Monday against Spring-Ford, left on their schedule.

“It felt good to catch this win,” Smallwood said. “We want to finish strong. We have one more game Monday against Spring-Ford. Hopefully that goes well.”

Pottsgrove’s Luke Kaiser, center, goes up for a shot between Pottstown’s Darius Smallwood, left, and Terryce Phillips. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Results

Team1234T
Pottstown1911141458
Pottsgrove142271356

Pottstown

# Player FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS
0Rashean Bostic22706
2Joneil Oister522214
3Darius Smallwood40108
4Jahzeel Watson568016
10Christian Albert00000
15Terryce Phillips32208
15Elija Moore-Palmore22206
 Total211422258

Pottsgrove

# Player FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS
1Manny Allen31208
2Shawn Majors744020
4John Ryan McMenamin00000
5Zion Dyches21405
10Nick Stringer12215
12Dylan Penot00000
14Ryan Sisko00000
15James Thompson20026
22Luke Kaiser424010
24Marlon Glaze10002
 Total201016356

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