HAVERFORD — For most of the season, Haverford’s boys basketball team hasn’t had the benefit of its full rotation. Between a lengthy hand injury to guard Brian Weiner, which coincided with the return from a brief absence by J.R. Newman, the full seven-man rotation that coach Keith Heinerichs had envisioned wasn’t all there together.
That Haverford could still win 16 games and garner the third seed in the Central League tournament despite those travails is a testament to the rest of the roster’s talent. And with the full group now healthy, the Fords are dangerous.
Of course, if Googie Seidman shoots like he did Thursday night, there’s a lot of personnel groupings the Fords can win with. Seidman hit seven 3-pointers for a game-high 23 points as Haverford jumped all over sixth-seeded Penncrest early en route to a 53-38 win.
“I was just really looking for my shot,” Seidman said. “When I had my openings, I would take it every time. It’s all about confidence. I was shooting confidently, and once they start going in, it gets easier.”
Haverford (17-4) advances to the semifinals on Saturday against second seed Radnor. That game is at Radnor at 4 p.m.
The final score flattered, thanks to some shot-making from Penncrest’s deep reserves. Haverford led 18-2 after one quarter and 32-9 at the half. By the time the Fords slowed the pace in the third quarter, the game was clearly decided.
Seidman was a big reason why. He led the Fords to a 12-for-21 shooting night from behind the 3-point arc. He hit a triple in each quarter, including three in the fourth to make sure Penncrest (12-10) had no designs on making things interesting.
Event with 23 points, it didn’t seem all that difficult. Some of that owes to Seidman’s range and the ease of his shooting motion, a casual flick of the wrists for the junior guard, even from 26 feet. Some of it is the fluidity with which the Fords got their looks. With Weiner back as another corner-shooting option, the Fords spread out defenses.
And if Seidman is tossing them in from 27 feet, it’s a tall task for a defense to close all the way out on him.
“The further I shoot out, the more it spreads the floor,” Seidman said. “My coach, he’s confident with me shooting from anywhere. It really spreads the floor out.”
“I just feel like it’s always like that,” forward Tommy Wright said. “If he needs us, we’re there. We kind of just let him do his thing because, I don’t think anyone can really guard him. He just does his thing, shoots phenomenally. He just scores the hell out of the ball.”
It wasn’t all Seidman, as indeed it hasn’t been all one player all season for the Fords. To that end, second-leading scorer Nick Colucci only had two points, and it did nothing to slow the offense. Wright was the spark early, canning a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter as part of his eight points in the frame. With a Seidman triple, it was 9-0 Haverford in the blink of an eye.
“He’s so unselfish,” Seidman said of Wright. “He plays defense, he knows his role and when the shot’s there, he knocks it down. It’s great.”
J.R. Newman scored all 11 of his points in the first half to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Wright finished with 10 points.
Haverford also stymied Penncrest with its defense. Ben Stanton and Saahir Lee entered the game averaging a combined 27.2 points per game. They tallied just seven, shooting 2-for-21 from the field. The inability to gets stops defensively compounded onto the offensive end, the Lions chasing the game from the outset. They trailed, 25-2, before hitting their second field goal.
“Saahir started heating up in the second half,” guard Chase Wilson said. “Eventually, they’re going to start hitting. It’s just kind of a flow thing.”
Wilson saved the Lions some blushes with a pair of second-quarter 3s to get them near double-digits at half. He led all scorers with six points. Next was Lee, Branden Hemphill and deep reserve Justin Sullivan, with six points each. Sullivan didn’t check in until fewer than two minutes to play. The loss ends a five-game winning streak for the Lions, who are safely into the District 1 Class 5A playoff field.
The Fords are coming off an overtime win at Lower Merion on Tuesday. The Aces, as the top seed, could await in the final and down the road in the District 1 Class 6A tournament. Even before that win, Haverford believed in itself, and with the full roster reunited, that faith is only growing.
“In the beginning when they got hurt, it was a little difficult,” Wright said. “And then we kind of got used to it. And when they got back, they just jumped right into it. The chemistry never left. We played all summer together, so it didn’t really matter as far as not playing enough together. We had the chemistry we needed in order to win.”
In the other semifinal, Conestoga outlasted Garnet Valley, 34-33, in double overtime. The fourth-seeded Pioneers, who lost to Garnet Valley on Tuesday, advance to meet the Aces on Saturday. Garnet Valley (14-9) entered outside the playoff places in District 1 Class 6A and wait to see if results elsewhere allow them to sneak into the field.
In the Del Val League:
Chester 100, Academy Park 54 >> Quadir Lowrie scored 20 points and Breilynd White added 18 as six Clippers were in double-figures in the rout.
Larenzo Jerkins added 14 points.
In the Bicentennial League:
Morrisville 58, Delco Christian 40 >> Josh Dell’Arciprete led the way with 12 points, but a 15-2 disadvantage set the Knights back.
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