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CB East rolls past North Penn to claim outright SOL Colonial title

Central Bucks East's Joey Giordano (0) goes up for a shot against North Penn during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

TOWAMENCIN >>  An overtime loss last Friday to Souderton denied the Central Bucks East boys basketball team the outright Suburban One League Colonial Division title while also keeping alive North Penn’s chance of earning a split of the crown.

The Patriots, however, were never too keen on sharing and made sure they ended up standing alone as champions with a dominant victory over the host Knights Tuesday night.

“I think losing that game kind of gave everyone a little, ‘OK we got to step it up, you know we can’t be as cocky coming into these games,” CB East senior Joey Giordano said. “And I think we just had to come out and play today and that’s what we did.”

Central Bucks East took a 14-point lead into halftime and when North Penn opened the third with seven straight points to cut the margin in half, the Patriots responded with a 7-0 run of their own.

East proceeded to push its advantage to 17 by the end of the quarter and pull away further in the fourth, rolling to a 69-42 victory in both sides’ regular-season finale.

Central Bucks East’s Jake Cummiskey (1) looks to drive as North Penn’s Mario Sgro (2) defends during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

“We were really disappointed with the Souderton game, how we played,” CB East coach Erik Henrysen said. “And credit to Souderton though, I felt like I didn’t have the guys ready with it being Senior Night and the distractions. We never really got into our groove, into our rhythm and, of course, Souderton did a great job of being ready for us, they controlled the tempo of the game.

“And I thought tonight was a big test, how we’re going to respond to that and the guys came through.”

Four Patriots scored in double figures led by Tyler Dandrea, who had 10 of his game-high 17 points in the first quarter as East (19-3, 14-2 division) claimed a third straight SOL Colonial title, taking it outright this year and 2021 while sharing it with Central Bucks South last season.

“A winning culture, it wasn’t easy to develop and now that we’re here it’s about maintaining it,” Henrysen said. “And so the expectations from year to year are that great and you’re trying to beat the one team behind ya.”

Central Bucks East’s Joey Giordano (0) goes up for a shot against North Penn during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Jake Cummiskey collected 14 points, Giordano finished with 13 points – 10 coming in the first half – while Kyle Berndt added 12 points for East, which knocked down nine 3-pointers, Dandrea making three.

“We came out to shoot and we’re going to have those games because we’re a team full of shooters,” Giordano said. “And if we get going, one guy hits a three, it’s like Tyler (Dandrea), you know, Tyler hit one three after another and another. And whoever’s hot we’re just going to feed them the ball.

Ryan Deininger’s 10 points paced North Penn (17-5, 12-4), which was looking for its first title since taking the SOL Continental Conference outright in 2016-17. The Knights had their 12-game winning streak snapped and they allowed their most points this season while scoring their second fewest.

“I thought we got some good shots early, we just didn’t make anything,” North Penn coach John Conrad said. “And then we weren’t able to kind of score in transition, get stops so it just kind of one thing led to another. I thought they played really well tonight, they defended really well but I just thought we got such a tough, slow start and we were fighting uphill the rest of the night.”

North Penn’s Norman Gee (3) looks to drive past Central Bucks East’s Joey Giordano (0) during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

North Penn and CB East are both playing in the Suburban One League tournament, which begins Friday. The two teams look set on earning top-eight seeds and first-round byes in the District 1-6A tournament – East is ranked fourth while the Knights are sixth. Districts began on Friday, Feb. 17.

“Disappointing that we weren’t able to compete better but my message to the guys was don’t let your highs be too high and lows too low,” Conrad said. “And we still got some things to play for so that’ll be our focus tomorrow.”

The Patriots never trailed Tuesday with the contest tied just twice, the last time at 6-6 before Dandrea hit a three followed by a Cummiskey jumper.

East’s biggest lead in the first quarter was seven with the Patriots ending the opening eight minutes up 18-12 after a Giordano free throw with 2.4 seconds left.

Central Bucks East’s Joey Giordano (0) shoots a 3-pointer against North Penn during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Giordano started the second quarter with a 3-point play at 7:30. Two Cummiskey foul shots then a Justin DiRoberto triple extended the Patriots’ advantage to 26-12.

“I think every night a different person’s going to have the hot hand and if you find that then we’re going to be golden,” Giordano said. “Some nights it won’t be me, some nights it won’t be Kyle or Jake but there’s always a guy who’s going to step up and come through.”

North Penn only got as close as 11 before the break when a Ryan Zeltt 3-pointer made it 30-19. Giordano responded by draining a three and after a Deininger basket, Cummiskey scored on a drive for a 35-21 East lead at halftime.

“We were really worried about them in transition,” Henrysen said. “(Norman) Gee and (Mario) Sgro are just so fast, so quick so our focus was let’s get back and let’s try to limit the transition throw-aheads for threes or just keep them where they would have to kind of slow down.

“And then on the offensive end, we feel comfortable getting out and running and so we wanted to take those opportunities when they presented themself.”

North Penn’s Mario Sgro (2) drives against Central Bucks East during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Gee began the third with five straight points, connecting on a 3-pointer then two free throws at 6:51. Zeltt scored on an inbounds to make it a 7-0 run and pull the Knights to within 35-28.

But after a Dandrea basket, Berndt hit a three with Dandrea adding two more off an offensive rebound to put the Patriots back ahead 14 at 42-28.

“When they came out early, hit those shots in the third quarter, we thought we needed to respond and respond quick,” Henrysen said. “And Kyle, I think Kyle hit a big three on the wing then just getting stops there to keep them from getting into their transition game and getting that momentum.”

Sgro converted on a drive to make it 42-30 but Dandrea connected on his third 3-pointer of the night to put East up 15. Zeltt answered with a three only for a Berndt bucket and Giordano scoring and drawing a foul at 2:14 to give the Patriots a 49-33 lead.

Central Bucks East’s Jake Cummiskey (1) goes up for a shot as North Penn’s Ryan Zeltt (13) contests during their game on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Baskets from Sgro and Deininger had the Knights down 49-37 but two Cummiskey free throws at 1:21 then a Miles Demby 3-pointer just before the buzzer sent East to the fourth up 17.

The Patriots began the final quarter with a 7-1 burst – a Berndt 3-pointer followed by Cummiskey scoring on a drive to make it 61-38.

Central Bucks East 69, North Penn 42
Central Bucks East 18 17 19 15 – 69
North Penn 12 9 16 5 – 42
Central Bucks East: Tyler Dandrea 7 0-2 17; Jake Cummiskey 5 4-4 14; Joey Giordano 4 3-6 13; Kyle Berndt 3 4-4 12; Miles Demby 2 1-1 6; Justin DiRoberto 1 0-0 3; Dhruv Mukund 1 0-0 2; Justin Panaia 0 2-2 2; Totals 23 14-19 69.
North Penn: Ryan Deininger 4 1-2 10; Ryan Zeltt 3 1-2 9; Norman Gee 2 2-2 7; Mario Sgro 3 0-0 6; Teddy McAllister 2 0-0 4; Corey Meade 2 0-0 4; Ahmaar Godhania 1 0-0 2; Totals 17 4-6 42.
3-pointers: CBE-Dandrea 3, Berndt 2, Giordano 2, Demby, DiRoberto; NP –Zeltt 2, Deininger, Gee.

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