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North Penn rallies past Cheltenham, pushes win streak to eight

North Penn breaks the huddle during its clash with Cheltenham on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

CHELTENHAM >> A pressure-packed fourth quarter brought out the best in North Penn Saturday night.

“Defense and energy, man,” said the Knights’ Ryan Deininger of those crucial eight minutes of basketball. “We were pressing up a lot, pressing full court. We got a lot of steals and a lot of fast breaks. We weren’t doing that the whole game, until the fourth. It was great.”

North Penn rallied back from seven down entering the final frame produce a 57-56 win on the road and extend its win streak to eight.

“That’s a big win. We were down the whole game and it was good to come back and keep (the winning streak) alive,” said Deininger, who scored a team-high 16 points.

North Penn raised its record to 13-4 heading into a home contest against Pennridge Tuesday night. Cheltenham is now 7-8 on the season and looks to make a push to improve its District 1-6A Playoff chances. The Panthers are at New Hope-Solebury Tuesday night.

“We just had to settle down. We weren’t playing well — we were taking some bad shots,” said Deininger of the contest — NP trailed by seven at the half and after three. “And we knew we were better than that. So we just had to keep playing.”

Ryan Deininger scored 16 points to help lead North Penn past Cheltenham. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

Baskets by Mario Sgro, Ryan Zeltt and Lee Hammond helped fuel the Knights’ charge in the fourth.

Deininger and Corey Meade were also key, combining for 10 points in the fourth.

With North Penn clinging to a 55-53 advantage with 23 seconds to go, Deininger sank two foul shots to extend the lead and provide a cushion.

“They were huge. I had been struggling from the line the whole year so it felt good to put us up four,” the senior guard said.

The Panthers, led by Yakeen Respes’ 18 points, sliced the margin to 57-56 on a three by Josiah Hutson with six seconds to go. But North Penn snapped a few passes around to drain the clock.

“We’re fighting for a home playoff game or even a bye at this point, so this was huge,” Deininger said.

North Penn 57, Cheltenham 56
North Penn 9 15 17 16 — 57
Cheltenham 11 20 17 8 — 56
North Penn: 2 Mario Sgro 3 2-2 8, 3 Norman Gee 3 0-0 8, 4 Teddy McAllister 1 0-0 3, 13 Ryan Zeltt 5 0-0 10, 20 Lee Hammond 1 0-0 2, 21 Ryan Deininger 6 3-8 16, 22 Corey Meade 1 8-15 10. Totals 20 13-25 57.
Cheltenham: 1 Josiah Hutson 4 1-2 10, 2 Yakeen Respes 6 5-6 18, 4 Kamani Healey 5 1-2 11, 11 Osei Johnson 1 0-0 3, 12 Malik Hughes 0 0-2 0, 21 Nile Tinsley 4 0-0 8, 35 Xavier Thompson 2 2-2 6. Totals 22 9-14 56.
3-pointers: C-Hutson, Respes, Johnson.

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