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Eyeing post-season berths, Rustin blasts Great Valley

WESTTOWN >> Locked in a season-long battle to earn a berth in the four-team Ches-Mont and District 1 5A boys’ basketball tournaments, West Chester Rustin is playing like a team fighting for its postseason life.

After handing Unionville its first Ches-Mont American defeat last week, the Golden Knights pummeled overmatched Great Valley, 60-32, on Tuesday. It’s an opponent they edged by just 10 earlier in January.

“We are starting the gel as a team – that’s what it’s all about,” said senior forward Sam Sproull.

“We are kind of hitting our stride right now,” added Rustin head coach Vince Mostardi. “We are playing together, and this is the time of year to do that.

“Our backs were against the wall against Unionville, and we had the same type of energy tonight. Our mental approach at this point is that we can’t afford any losses.”

Now 6-3 in the division (9-9 overall), the Knights entered the day 11th in the District Power Rankings — so there is very little margin for error.

Rustin has four regular season games to go, including Ches-Mont American cellar dwellers Oxford and Kennett, and non-league contests with Boyertown and Collegium Charter. If the Knights can go 8-3 in the division, they will earn a spot at Ches-Monts, to be held at West Chester’s Hollinger Field House.

“Our goal is to get to West Chester and compete in West Chester,” Mostardi said. “Our season is not finished yet. We still have four games to play, and if we take care of business, we won’t be denied.”

The Patriots (4-8, 9-11) are headed in the opposite direction. Several key players are out with injuries, and head coach C.J. Savage unveiled a new lineup on Tuesday with underclassmen Zach Stahl, Gavin Maslowski and Tyler Markowski in the starting lineup.

“We are missing a total of three starters – Jaxson (Ray), Noah Metrick and Ryan McDaniel,” he said.

“(The new lineup) is about the guys who have been practicing hard and giving the most effort. We are just looking at guys who are competing the hardest. We are just trying to do the best with what we’ve got.”

It had been a full week since Rustin’s last outing – the big 55-46 win over Unionville – and chances for a letdown effort were in the offing.

“I was a little nervous because we hadn’t played since last Tuesday,” Mostardi said. “It was a big win, and the Collegium (Charter) game was cancelled, so I told the guys that we have to stay locked in.

“And I think we won this game by the way we practiced (Monday). We were lights out and we came out with that fire today. That’s what I love to see. It’s easy to let up and get comfortable, but we can’t get comfortable. We have some big goals.”

It was apparent from the start when the Knights scored 12 of the game’s first 14, led by double-digits early in the second quarter, and opened a 28-10 lead at the half.

Savage called two timeouts in the third to cool off Rustin, but it was 52-22 heading into the fourth. Through the first three quarters, the Knights had forced 14 turnovers and allowed just five field goals. In addition, Rustin had grabbed 12 offensive boards.

“Those are the hustle plays,” Sproull said. “If we play harder than our opponent, hard work beats talent.”

Mostardi added: “If we are rebounding the ball like that and getting second looks, we are going to be a tough team to beat.”

Senior Ian Schlesinger led all scorers with 19, and Sproull added 13 for the Knights. Stahl and Will Otterbein paced the Pats with eight each.

Great Valley entered the day in the 32nd spot in the District 1 6A Power Rankings. And with two games to go, it’s highly doubtful the Patriots will be able to get into the top-24 to earn a berth.

“At this point it’s not about making the tournament, it’s about our guys executing and doing the fundamentals,” Savage said. “It’s also about the guys coming up for next season.”

Rustin, however, is looking to the very near future.

“Not many people talk about us, so we are trying to make a name for ourselves,” Sproull said. “We got knocked out (of the Ches-Mont Tournament) as sophomores and we didn’t make it last year. So we think this could be our year.”

West Chester Rustin 60, Great Valley 32

Great Valley                         7 3 12 10 — 32

W.C. Rustin                          12 16 24 8 — 60

GREAT VALLEY – Stahl 2 2-2 8; Markowski 1 0-0 2; Otterbein 2 3-4 8; Alexander 2 3-3 7; Maslowski 1 1-2 3; Hegde 0 2-2 2; Benson 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 11-13 32.

W.C. RUSTIN – T. Hasson 3 0-0 7; Giunta 3 0-0 6; Sproull 5 1-2 13; Schlesinger 8 0-1 19; Nochumson 1 2-2 4; Davis 1 1-2 3; Lyons 2 0-1 4; C. Hatton 1 0-0 2; Bargo 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 4-8 60.

Three-pointers: Stahl 2, Otterbein, T. Hasson, Sproull 2, Schleslinger 3.



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