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WINTER SPORTS

Hot-handed Tansey helps Marple Newtown get out fast, cruise past Chichester

Justin DiBona, right, seen last week in a game against Garnet Valley, and his Marple Newtown teammates are moving on after a 56-39 decision over Chichester Saturday night in the District 1 Class 5A first round. (Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group)

NEWTOWN SQUARE — Mike Tansey knew that the District 1 Class 5A first-round game against Chichester could be his last at Marple Newtown.

The senior guard played like someone determined to make sure that wouldn’t happen Saturday night.

Tansey scored 27 points, was 8-for-9 from the field and made all four of his looks from 3-point range, staking Marple to a 56-39 win over No. 10 Chichester.

Marple Newtown, the seventh seed in District 1, advances to Tuesday’s quarterfinal at No. 2 Chester.

At halftime, Tansey had 16 points. Chichester only had 13. His ability to hit long-range shots frustrated Chi’s aggressive, half-court trap that sought to run the Tigers off their usual perimeter spots.

“It felt really good,” Tansey said. “My teammates had confidence in me like they always do. They were finding me with the ball. We kept moving the ball and it kept find its way to my hands and we got the win as a team.”

Marple Newtown (11-7) went 6-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half, Ryan Straub supplying the other two makes. That turned out to be enough, as Chi struggled to hit jump shots in what is a notoriously difficult gym to shoot in for visitors.

All of Tansey’s 3s were within the flow of the Tigers’ usual ball-moving splendor, which netted 10 assists on 17 made baskets. Once the jump shots splashed home and Chi adjusted, driving lanes opened for Tansey and Eric McKee to get to the basket.

“We noticed as we were shooting the ball, they were coming up a lot more and that opened the driving lanes,” McKee said. “Even if they collapse, we can always kick back out.”

“We’ve just got to close out,” Chichester senior guard Ramir McDowell said. “It’s hard to pressure them. That’s a good team. We’ve got to get rebounds, too. We were struggling on rebounds the whole game.”

McKee was held to two points in the first half but finished with 14, including seven in the third quarter to hold off a Chi charge. Straub added six points, six rebounds and a team-high three assists. Owen Mathes paired five points with eight boards, part of a 28-18 rebounding edge.

The Eagles (9-8) made a run in the third. Despite their two leading scorers this season, Maz Sayed and 1,000-point scorer Josh Hankins, held to a combined seven points on 3-for-13 shooting, someone had to step up. That was McDowell, who scored all eight of his points in the third. He also dished twice to forward Isaiah Diggs, who scored eight of his team-high 12 points in the third to draw Chi as close as six.

“We were down 15 points, so I just tried to do everything, help us come back,” McDowell said. “They stepped up on me so I dished it off to Isaiah a couple of times and he made some layups.”

McKee hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, and a basket by Ousmane Fofana set up by McDowell got Chi within single-digits at 43-34. But the Tigers weathered the press by elongating possessions and draining the clock without mistakes.

For McDowell, it’s a painful ending to a career of unquestioned growth, the Eagles making the playoffs three of the four seasons that Clyde Jones has been in charge.

“The young guys have got us,” McDowell said. “They’re going to come back next year and ball.”

Tansey’s quest to not have his season end continues for at least one more outing.

“I was telling some of my teammates before the game, we did not want this to be our last game,” Tansey said. “We want to keep playing as long as we can as a team. We don’t want this year to end because we know we’re something special.”

In District 1 Class 6A:

Upper Dublin 48, Haverford 46 >> Collin O’Sullivan and Drew Stover combined for 40 points to lead the 20th-seeded Cardinals to a first-round victory over the No. 13 Fords.

Upper Dublin advances to take on fourth-seeded Garnet Valley Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

O’Sullivan scored 22 of his team-high 24 points in the final three quarters, nine in the pivotal fourth period. All of his points in the fourth quarter came on 3-pointers. Stover had all 16 of his points in the last three periods, seven in the final frame when Upper Dublin outscored Haverford, 18-15.

John Seidman tallied 25 of his game-high 27 points in the final three quarters.

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