PHILADELPHIA >> They come quickly, without warning and usually completely change a game.
Spring-Ford coach Joe Dempsey called them “flurries.” Whatever they’re called, they’ve been a staple for Plymouth Whitemarsh all season, these bursts of offense that sometimes seem to materialize out of nothing and usually turn the entire tide of a game. Saturday, in the biggest moment of the season, it came from Jaden Colzie.
Colzie erupted in the fourth quarter, giving the No. 3 Colonials enough of a flurry to edge No. 1 Spring-Ford 59-54 in the District 1-6A boys basketball title game at Temple’s Liacouras Center.
“I just found a rhythm with the first shot I made and my teammates kept finding me,” Colzie, who scored 13 of his 16 in the fourth, said. “After that first shot, I was good from there.”
The top-seeded Rams, making their first appearance in the district final and the Colonials, back in the championship for the first time since 2018 but questing for their first title since 2016, put together some true theater on Broad Street. The lead never went above eight, that all coming in a different flurry from PW’s 11-2 run to end the first half and even when Colzie’s final, most audacious shot when in with two minutes to play, it had only spelled a five-point advantage.
Each team’s strengths stood out, the Colonials’ aggressive, ball-hunting defense against Spring-Ford’s smooth and crisp offense and on the flip side, the Rams’ flexible matchup zone against PW’s triple-threat of scorers in Colzie, Qudire Bennett and Chase Coleman. No lead felt safe, Spring-Ford erasing all eight points of that halftime lead in short order to start the third, only for yet another PW flurry to drop five points in the snap of a hand.
“We could have buckled, that’s their game, they have these little flurries of five, six, seven points and ultimately that flurry that Colzie had was the one that did us in,” Dempsey, in his second year at Spring-Ford, said. “That’s their game, you think you sort of have them contained and sort of under control and it was the late flurry that did us in, we didn’t recover from that one.”
PW had a nice season last year, making the state playoffs after a district quarterfinal elimination as a low seed, but they still seemed far away from the lights of Temple’s arena. Then they got a boost this offseason, guard Chase Coleman returning to the area after a year away and coming into the program while big man Lincoln Sharpe came back to hoops after a year focused on baseball. Throw in some improvement from Jahseir Sayles, the rangy forward with endless arms who zoomed around every set and screen trying to slow Rams standout sophomore Jacob Nguyen, and the Colonials had a different feel.
Yet, there they were on Saturday, in a possession-for-possession fight. The scoring flurries were a boost, for sure, but it was the defensive end that PW coach Jim Donofrio pointed to as the difference in his eyes, a season-long improvement on that end paying off with enough plays and moments to outlast the other side.
“It’s a tricky game to control,” Donofrio, who won his second District 1 title, said. “You add in that we’ve never really played each other, Coach Dempsey has a whole lot of experience in the Catholic League, he’s watched us for years and we’ve talked for years and the art of war concept is never show your enemy all you’ve got or they’ll figure you out.”
No defensive play was louder than Coleman’s chase-down block midway through the third quarter, the junior guard protecting a 32-32 deadlock with Spring-Ford having all the momentum after just tying the game. Coleman was a menace, his quick and active hands prying away four steals and deflecting a ton of other balls around the court.
It wasn’t a scoring play but it was a flurry in its own way, preventing a score and giving PW room to snap off those five quick points on a Lincoln Sharpe bucket and a steal by Bennett that led to a three for a 37-32 lead.
“I practiced it yesterday, we were messing around but I really did practice it,” Coleman, who scored a team-best 18, said. “If he’s putting it off the board, I’m gonna go get it and go jump.”
Nguyen was fantastic, the sophomore scoring a game-high 20 points and never seeming out of place hitting 6-of-9 shots on a floor that devours otherwise consistent shooters. His three 26 seconds into the fourth quarter pulled the Rams within 38-37, a huge shot that almost got lost in the ensuring eruption by Colzie.
“The kid’s amazing, he wasn’t affected by the big stage or the bigger court, the backdrop,” Dempsey said. “We needed one more to go in and it might have been a different ending. He’s impressive, just so poised and all our kids really, PW, they have a gear defensively that is impressive and they don’t let you run plays and if you can’t make plays the ball’s going to fly around the rim.”
Colzie had only scored three points going into the fourth, the guard just 1-of-6 from the floor before he sank a three a minute into the final quarter.
His scoring run wasn’t quite a flurry, more sustained downfall, but every time Spring-Ford plowed a little bit of it away, the junior poured more on with his next score.
Score as he did — Colzie hit five straight shots in a five-minute span, plus Bennett and Coleman adding in two foul shots each — PW couldn’t pull away from Spring-Ford. That was, until Colzie’s last make, a college-range three from right in front of the Colonials bench that extended the lead to 55-50 with Coleman poking away a steal on the following defensive stand and splitting two at the line for a six-point lead.
“I’ve taken so many shots throughout my career, I’ve worked out so much, I feel like every shot is going to go in,” Colzie said. “I had the confidence to pull them and I’m happy they went in. That’s why we got the win, I feel like.”
He’d given PW the push it needed to get in front late in the game. Colzie would also factor into an ending that was a little bit closer than the Colonials would have liked. Fouled going to the hoop with 1:11 left, Colzie landed hard on his right shoulder and missed three straight foul shots, opening enough of a door for the Rams to close within 56-54 with 32.5 to play.
Luckily for the Colonials, they had Bennett and the forward was able to hit 3-of-4 in the final 16 seconds, coupled with a few defensive stops, to get PW to the finish.
“I’ve been dreaming, ever since I came here as a freshman, just ‘I want to go to Temple, I want to go to Temple,’” Bennett said. “Freshman year didn’t go how I wanted, COVID year hit, last year got cut short losing to Cheltenham but this year, I just knew we were going all the way.”
Dempsey noted it’s difficult to win a district title, much less make the final and he was satisfied with all the Rams did to get to Temple including their 20-2 regular season, PAC title and earning the top seed.
“That’s the kids, there were a couple of those high, tipped balls where we could have folded and we didn’t,” Dempsey said. “We recovered, some of them actually turned into positive plays for us. We were prepared for this, one or two little flurries there, I don’t think we got out-classed or out-toughed.”
A year ago, Colzie sat front row in the Colonials’ fan section as their girls’ team won its first district title and he told himself next time, he’d be the one on the court.
“It feels like forever that we’ve been waiting for this moment,” Colzie said. “I remember being in fifth grade in 2016, I have the district champs shirt and I would never think I’d be able to make it here. This is a dream come true.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh 59, Spring-Ford 54
PW: Jaden Colzie 6 1-5 16, Chase Coleman 6 5-6 18, Qudire Bennett 3 7-7 14, Jahseir Sayles 1 0-0 3, Lincoln Sharpe 3 0-0 6. Totals: 19 13-18 59
SF: EJ Campbell 1 3-4 5, Jacob Nguyen 6 4-4 20, Caleb Little 4 1-1 10, Tommy Kelly 1 2-2 4, Alexis Lewis 2 1-3 5, Zach Zollers 5 0-1 10. Totals: 19 12-15 54
3-pointers: PW – Colzie 3, Bennett, Coleman, Sayles; SF – Nguyen 4, Little
Boys Basketball/ 2 weeks ago
PIAA basketball tournament brackets released
The PIAA has released its brackets for the upcoming basketball championships. Tournaments begin Friday,...
SPRING SPORTS/ 28 mins ago
DLN roundup: Kennett boys lacrosse team rolls to victory
The Kennett High School boys’ lacrosse team exploded for a 16-4 win against Owen...
Ice Hockey/ 2 hours ago
Flyers Cup 2A Final: MacAinsh’s hat trick powers Pennsbury to the title
COLMAR — A magical season for Pennsbury’s Brendan MacAinsh ended with a hat trick,...
SPRING SPORTS/ 3 hours ago
WC Henderson holds of Downingtown West rally to win opener
WEST CHESTER>> In the season opener for both baseball teams Tuesday afternoon at Bob...
WINTER SPORTS/ 7 hours ago
De George: Battle-tested and loss-toughened Carroll proves itself when it counts
CONCORD TWP. — The Archbishop Carroll girls basketball team, if you’ll pardon the expression,...
WINTER SPORTS/ 7 hours ago
Taylor Wilson’s ‘practice’ shots propels Carroll into state championship
CONCORD — Taylor Wilson cleared her mind as she went to the free-throw line...
WINTER SPORTS/ 9 hours ago
Lansdale Catholic all focus, Archbishop Wood hoping to double-up on return to Hershey
Eric Gidney entered Lansdale Catholic’s locker room to a vastly different reaction than the...
SPRING SPORTS/ 9 hours ago
The Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Boys Tennis Preview
The local boys tennis scene is booming once again behind a Lower Moreland squad...
SPRING SPORTS/ 11 hours ago
DLN Roundup: Conestoga, Shanahan open lacrosse seasons with wins
In non-league boys’ lacrosse action on Monday, Conestoga got off to a nice early...
WINTER SPORTS/ 14 hours ago
Spring-Ford, Reading set for PIAA 6A boys basketball semifinal
Polar opposites will collide on Tuesday when Reading High faces Spring-Ford in a PIAA...
WINTER SPORTS/ 21 hours ago
West Chester East blanks Hershey for third straight Flyers Cup title
WEST GOSHEN >> Dynasty status was bestowed on the West Chester East ice hockey...
SPRING SPORTS/ 24 hours ago
Mercury roundup (March 20): Smith scores game winner in OT for Upper Merion girls lacrosse in win over Upper Moreland
GIRLS LACROSSE Upper Merion 11, Upper Moreland 10 (OT) Olivia Smith scored four goals,...
WINTER SPORTS/ 1 day ago
PIAA Class 6A Girls Basketball: Neighboring counterparts Cardinal O’Hara, Archbishop Carroll meet in state semifinal
The best rivalry in Delaware County girls basketball, featuring Archbishop Carroll and Cardinal O’Hara,...