BUCKINGHAM >> Kolby Barrow turned in his best Kris Jenkins impression as the North Penn boys basketball team secured a PIAA tournament berth in dramatic fashion Tuesday night.
With the Knights and Central Bucks East tied at 43 with 6.1 seconds left in their District 1-6A ninth-place semifinal, Joe Larkins raced down the court then found Barrow for a 3-pointer from the top of the arc as time expired, giving North Penn a 46-43 win to continue its improbable playoff run.
“It was supposed to go deeper but they had more people in the back so I didn’t want to force it,” Barrow said. “So I threw it up to Joey and then it kind of turned out looking like Villanova’s play (to win the 2016 NCAA title).”
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Barrow’s three hit nothing but net, the senior’s only basket of the contest sending the Knights and their traveling student section into an exuberant on-court celebration as North Penn scored the final nine points after trailing its SOL Continental rival 43-37 late in the fourth quarter to qualify for states for the first time since 2017.
“It was something we worked on yesterday at practice, end of game situation,” Knights coach John Conrad said. “And they doubled Joey and Kolby was trailing him and was there for the kick-back.”
North Penn squeaked into districts with a 9-13 record, grabbing the field’s 24th and last seed thanks to Matt Swanson’s half-court overtime buzzer-beater to defeat Pennridge in its regular season finale.
“Just got to win the important games,” Barrow said. “Our team hasn’t had the biggest record but we all haven’t played together so we were just getting our chemistry going throughout the season. So we’re just keep building and keep getting stronger.”
The Knights knocked off No. 9 Central Bucks West in the first round. After falling to No. 8 Pennridge in the second round, NP claimed its PIAA spot with two more upsets – toppling No. 16 Council Rock South last Friday then besting the No. 12 Patriots on Barrow’s game-winning trey.
“He’s a gamer,” said Conrad of Barrow, who is committed to Bloomsburg University for baseball. “He’s a three-sport athlete, I talk about it all time – three-sport athlete, he’s been there, just stepped up big when he had to.”
Josh Jones finished with a game-high 18 points, scoring his last two on a layup off a Larkins assist to tie the game at 41 in the final minute. Rob Carangi added 11 points as North Penn visits No. 2 Garnet Valley in the district nine-place game Friday. Garnet Valley beat No. 19 Upper Darby 68-53.
District 1’s ninth-place team takes on the District 12 champ – Roman Catholic or Simon Gratz – in the PIAA first round while 10th place faces the District 3 champ – Wilson-West Lawn or Reading.
“I said to the guys before the game we were 4-10 at one point and our guys just continue to work,” Conrad said. “It’s our senior leaders. Matt hit a big shot at Pennridge to get us in. Kolby hit a big one tonight.”
Jason Markowitz made four 3-pointers – three in the third quarter – to score a team-high 12 points for Central Bucks East (15-11), which was looking to reach states for the first time since 2016. Chris Charlton collected eight of his 11 points in the first quarter.
The Patriots, who beat North Penn twice in the regular season, connected on 10 3-pointers Tuesday night – Charlton hitting the last to give East the biggest lead of the tight contest at 43-37 with 2:43 remaining.
Mike Chaffee banked in a runner after his steal to make it 43-39 at 1:43. After the Patriots were called for traveling, Carangi scored on a pick-and-roll with Larkins to get the Knights within 43-31 with 1:12 left.
“He shot that one three I think in the second quarter, we put the kibosh on that and told him he’s got to get to the front of the rim,” said Conrad of Carangi. “And I thought he did a good job.”
North Penn regained possession still down two with 59.8 seconds by forcing a turnover along the sideline after an East inbounds.
“We fixed up our defense, we got a little tighter,” Barrow said. “And a few turnovers by them by our pressure defense really helped.”
Carangi was blocked by Jack Hamilton but Carangi corralled the ball and found Chaffee in the corner. Chaffee’s try from three was long however the ball went out of bounds off East at 38.9 seconds.
After Jones couldn’t get a shot off the inbounds to bank in, Carangi dove to save the ball from going out along the baseline. Larkins got a handle of it and found an open Jones down low for the tying basket.
“He’s a tough kid, he’s a competitor,” said Conrad of Jones. “And he’s playing his best basketball right now.”
On East’s ensuing possession, Swanson took a charge, giving the Knights a chance at the win with 6.1 seconds on the clock.
Larkins raced down the right side of the court after taking the inbounds from Barrow then passed to the trailing Barrow, who drained the three over the close-out of the 6-foot-8 Hamilton.
“It felt good, didn’t know if it was going in,” Barrow said. “Once I saw it go through – I don’t know, just joy.”
A Tyler Young 3-pointer in the second quarter’s last seconds gave CB East a 23-22 halftime lead. North Penn opened the third with six straight points – four from Jones – to grab a 28-23 advantage.
A Markowitz trey made it 28-26 before a Jones basket had Knights up four but Markowitz stayed locked in from long range, hitting consecutive triples for a 32-30 Patriots lead.
“We knew going in that they were going to be able to shoot from the perimeter or get to the front of the rim,” Conrad said. “We played that 1-3-1 zone and they hit a bunch of shots. I don’t know what the final was but we held them to 43 so we knew they’d get about 30 points from the arc, we just had to defend. Limit them to one shot.”
Two Anthony Giordano free throws at 2:23 had East leading 34-31. A Jones basket inside made it 34-33 heading to the fourth.
Joe Jackman started the final quarter with a three to put the Patriots ahead 37-33. After a Giordano free throw had East’s lead at 40-35 with 4:03 left Larkins hit a jumper but Charlton’s third trey of the night gave the Patriots a six-point edge.
Jacob Rotondo’s buzzer-beating layup had CB East up 14-11 after the first quarter. A Markowitz three gave the Patriots a 20-16 lead in the second quarter before five straight points from Carangi put North Penn up 21-20.
A Jones free throw with 31.5 seconds made it 22-20 before Young’s three gave the home side a one-point lead at the break.