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North Penn survives Souderton’s 4th-quarter rally to win 11th straight

TOWAMENCIN >> It did not seem earlier in the fourth quarter the North Penn boys basketball was going to need a clutch basket from Mario Sgro to extend its winning streak to 11 games.

The senior, however, was confident that when the time came he could come through in the clutch.

“When it’s coming down I want to take the shot in the last (moments),” he said. “I want to be the type of person to take the shot.”

Eight straight points by Sgro gave the Knights a 45-30 lead in the final period of Tuesday night’ SOL Colonial Division matchup with visiting Souderton. But from there, North Penn could not keep a hold off the ball under the Indians pressure, turnovers stoking a 17-2 Souderton run that pulled Big Red even at 47 on Aiden Maue’s corner 3-pointer.

With the seconds ticking off in the contest’s final minute, Sgro got a step on his defender to drive into the lane and connect on a right-hander runner to put the Knights back up two.

“There was like 40 seconds left, I knew we had to get something going,” Sgro said. “So I just took it myself, took the runner, it was open so I took it.”

Souderton twice missed the front ends of 1-and-1s and after a Ryan Zeltt free throw put the Knights up three, the Indians got a chance to tie but their corner three was off-target and North Penn held off for a 50-47 victory.

“At the end of the day, a win is a win, right?” Knights coach John Conrad said. “But we just didn’t play with any poise tonight. It started out, we didn’t have any energy. I thought Mo did a great job and really kind of single-handedly carried us to the 15-point lead and then we had no poise, no poise at all down the stretch.”

All of Sgro’s scoring came in the fourth as he and Zeltt paced North Penn (16-4, 11-3 division) with 10 points each. Ryan Deininger and Corey Meade added nine and eight points, respectively.

“Although I feel like we really didn’t play good basketball at all throughout the whole entire game, we still somehow came out with a win,” Sgro said. “So that’s the positive, although we can still play our worst basketball and still win a game. We just got to prepare better for (Central Bucks) South.”

North Penn’s Ryan Deininger (21) goes up for a shoot against Souderton during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

The Knights still have a chance to split the SOL Colonial title with Central Bucks East but North Penn needs to win its last two division contests while East – which clinched at least a share by edging Pennridge 61-59 Tuesday – has to drop its final two.

Friday, the Knights visit CB South while East hosts Souderton with both games at 7 p.m. North Penn is home against East 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“Given Souderton credit, they played tremendously hard tonight and made plays when they had a chance to make plays,” Conrad said. “Fortunately Mo put us over the hump down the edge but any night in this league you got to play well for four quarters otherwise you’re going to be (in) a tough one.”

Aiden Maue had half of his game-high 14 points in the fourth for the Indians (6-14, 5-9), who lost their fourth straight. Levi John and Chanse Salone each chipped in eight points.

Corey Meade collected the last four points of the third to send the Knights into the final quarter up 37-27. A John 3-pointer had the Indians within seven but Sgro proceeded to knock down consecutive treys then added a basket off a steal to push North Penn’s lead to 45-30.

Souderton’s Aiden Maue (21) goes up for a shot against North Penn during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

“I’m usually trying to run the offense or I facilitate,” Sgro said. “But nobody, like Dino (Deininger) or Teddy or Corey, they weren’t really scoring that often so I was just like I got to start doing something, like somebody else has to pitch in.”

A Nolan Watkins trey followed by a Maue bucket had the Indians down 10 while four straight points by Salone sliced the margin to 45-39. Maue drew a foul on his transition layup that put Souderton within a point at 45-44 with 2:30 remaining.

“We were feeling good cause we were up and then they started pressing,” Sgro said. “And they started running and jumping, double-teaming so we started turning the ball over. I think we had 19 turnovers today.”

Norman Gee was fouled on a drive and made both free throws to give NP a 47-44 lead at 1:51. But Maue drained a corner trey off a Salone assist to knot things at 47 just before the final minute of regulation.

North Penn’s Mario Sgro (2) looks to drive past Souderton’s Trey Bui (2) during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

After Sgro’s runner put the Knights up 49-47, a foul with 21.3 seconds send Souderton to the line for a 1-and-1. After missing on the front end, the Indians grabbed the rebound and were fouled with 20.0 seconds left.

The Indians again could not convert the 1-and-1 , North Penn collecting the rebound and getting the ball to Zeltt, who was fouled with 12. 9 seconds remaining. Zeltt made the first of his 1-and-1 but not the second, Souderton calling a timeout after rebounding the miss at 11.9 seconds.

Salone brought the ball up the court and got it to James Blair, who could not get off a shot from the wing but found John in the left corner for a three to tie but the shot was off, Deininger grabbed the rebound and the Knights survived.

“We were supposed to switch on that,” Sgro said. “But we didn’t get the switch on the (play), they slipped it out and they got an open look. They could’ve sent it to overtime but lucky Levi miss.”

Souderton’s Levi John (23) puts up a shot against North Penn during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

In the second quarter, a Blair 3-pointer cut North Penn’s lead to 19-17 but Zeltt hit a long two then a three to put the Knights ahead 24-17. After two Salone free throws at 1:44, a triple by NP’s Lee Hammond gave the hosts a 27-19 advantage at the half.

A Zeltt basket to start the third made it 29-19. Souderton pulled to within six three times in the quarter, the last tie at 33-27 after two Jared Zimmerman free throws at 3:44 but Meade hit a pair of foul shots at 2:19 then scored off a Deininger assist for a 37-27 Knights lead.

North Penn 50, Souderton 47
Souderton 8 11 8 20 – 47
North Penn 12 15 10 13 – 50
Souderton: Aiden Maue 6 0-2 14; Levi John 3 0-0 8; Chanse Salone 3 2-3 8; James Blair 3 0-0 7; Jared Zimmerman 2 2-2 7; Nolan Watkins 1 0-0 3; Totals 18 4-7 47.
North Penn: Mario Sgro 4 0-0 10; Ryan Zeltt 4 1-2 10; Ryan Deininger 4 0-0 9; Corey Meade 2 4-4 8; Norman Gree 1 2-2 5; Ahmaar Godhania 1 0-0 3; Lee Hammond 1 0-0 3; Teddy McAllister 1 0-0 2; Totals 18 7-8 59.
3-pointers: S-John 2, Maue 2, Blair, Watkins, Zimmerman; NP-Sgro 2, Deininger, Gee, Godhania, Hammond, Zeltt.

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