FRANCONIA >> A second-quarter surge helped the Upper Dublin boys basketball team hold off Dock Mennonite’s charge in the fourth as the Cardinals started their season with a win in the Jim Church Classic Friday night at Souderton.
A 16-3 run turned Upper Dublin’s one-point edge into a 29-15 lead with 2:07 remaining in the first half. The Cards went into halftime up 10 but the Pioneers kept chipping away only for a couple key baskets from freshman Ryan Mulroy and a few clutch free throws late to secure Upper Dublin’s 53-49 victory.
“The second quarter was a good quarter for us,” UD coach Chris Monahan said. “We were disruptive and that’s when we’re good. We played fast, we got to the rim, playing inside-out we made a couple threes. And then the second half, you know turnovers, we missed some easy shots around the rim and let them hang around and they had guys making shots that we didn’t do a great job defending.
“But the fourth quarter, they’re fouling we had guys like DJ (Cerisier) stepped up, 4-for-4 from the line late.”
Cerisier paced the Cardinals (1-0) with 14 points – 10 coming in the first half with his last two coming as he hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to put UD up 50-45 with 1:03 remaining.
After Dock’s Nathan Lapp made the second of two at the line at 33.7 seconds, the Cardinals missed a shot inside but Seaton Kukla deflected a Pioneer pass attempt, the loose ball corralled by Chris Kohlbrenner, who was fouled and made both free throws with 8.3 seconds left.
Zack Neff hit a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to put Dock down 52-49 before Kukla connected on the second of two foul shots at 0.5 seconds to seal the win, which advances Upper Dublin to face Souderton – which beat Lansdale Catholic 61-46 – in the tournament championship 5 p.m. Saturday. Dock takes on LC in the consolation at 1:30 p.m.
Lapp drained four 3-pointers in scoring 16 of the Pioneers’ 21 first-half points. The junior forward finished with five treys in posting a game-high 22 points. Tomir Johnson hit a trio of threes in the fourth, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the quarter for Dock (0-1).
“They run good offense, setting the flare screens, the back screens, we wanted to make sure our guys were showing – did a so-so job,” Monahan said. “Halftime we talked about it that we wanted to double him (Lapp) coming off screens, we wanted to force him to his left and at times we did that, at times we didn’t and then we let some other guys kind of get open. They’re a good-shooting team, they’re going to win a lot of games.”
Colin O’Sullivan added 11 points while Mulroy scored seven of his nine points in the fourth for UD, which is looking for more balanced offensive approach after graduating 1,000-point scorer Drew Stover – now at Millersville – from last season’s 12-10 side that reached the District 1-6A second round.
“My hope for this group is that we’re not as one dimensional as we were with Drew because I really think we have on any given night, you know DJ had 14 tonight, Colin O’Sullivan I think had 11, Ryan had nine,” Monahan said. “But we have other guys that can easily go for 16, 17 on a given night depending on matchups and if you’re making shots. So I’m happy for it to be as a committee and not be OK well everyone knows it’s Drew and we know it’s Drew. I think we got a bunch of kids that are going to be able to score.”
An O’Sullivan 3-pointer off an inbounds had the Cardinals up 37-25 in the third but Dock scored the quarter’s last four with Johnson opening up the fourth with a 3-pointer to make it 37-32.
Mulroy’s putback had UD up seven before Johnson hit another trey, pulling Dock to within four.
A Mulroy bucket was answered by a Johnson drive but Mulroy connected on a three from the top of the arc for a 44-37 Cardinals lead. Two Cerisier free throws at 2:48 extended the margin to nine.
“Ryan, he wasn’t playing like a freshman,” Monahan said. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure how many minutes we were going to play him but when he was in there he was making plays. But also things that doesn’t so up in the statsheet. He got on the floor for a loose ball, really knocking the ball away at a critical time and he does things like that in practice and it was big time to do it in the game.”
A Hoyt Bultje basket and a Lapp triple had Dock down 46-42. Mulroy found Kukla inside for two and a six-point edge. Johnson third 3-pointer of the fourth made it 48-45 with 70 seconds left before Cerisier hit both end of his 1-and-1 at 1:03.
Upper Dublin jumped out to an 11-4 lead but a Lapp three had the Pioneers trailing 11-7 after the first quarter.
Another Lapp three cut the Cards advantage to 13-12 but UD responded with 11 straight points – two Mulroy free throws at 6:24, back-to-back Cerisier baskets, a Griffin Pensabene trey and a O’Sullivan two for a 26-15 lead.
After a Lapp trey ended the run Upper Dublin collected the next five – a Kukla three-point play at 2:07 making it 29-15. Dock sliced its deficit to 31-21 at the break after Johnson banked in a jumper.
The Pioneers pulled within seven twice in the third, the second time at 32-25 after Bultje scored after an offensive rebound but two Noah Lee free throws and an O’Sullivan three had UD up a dozen.
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