GRATERFORD: Methacton’s Justin Ardman and Sean Mann wanted no parts of another defeat in the PAC-10 Championship.
Two years, two-straight defeats.
Now, after Tuesday night, Ardman, Mann and Methacton can call themselves champions.
In what was strikingly similar to the two team’s regular season matchup, Methacton received double-digit efforts from four of its starting five as the Warriors rode another fourth-quarter surge to a 73-63 victory over Pottsgrove at Perkiomen Valley.
“(This) feels incredible,’ Mann said. “In the past couple years we came up short and we didn’t want to feel that way again. Pottsgrove is a heck of a team. We kept fighting and they gave us a run for our money but our team stepped up.’
“It definitely feels extra special,’ Ardman added. “It’s our senior year and we’ve been playing with each other for the last 10 years. For this to happen is surreal.’
Ardman led the way with 24 points while Tom Dyer (14 points), Chris McCarthy (12 points) and TJ Tornetta (11 points) all finished in double-digits as Methacton saw an 11-point third quarter lead dissipate before a momentous buzzer-beating shot and fourth quarter rally. Mann finished the game with seven points and a team-high five assists in the victory.
“We battled and they kept coming at us,’ Methacton head coach Jeff Derstine said. “We made some huge shots in the fourth quarter and I’m proud of the way we responded. We got down early but the guys didn’t panic at all. We had some good offensive possessions, got right back into it.
“Give Pottsgrove a ton of credit. They are a tough team. They play hard, they battle, they come at you.’
Mike Fowler finished with a team-high 20 points for Pottsgrove as the Falcons were denied their first PAC-10 Championship since the 2010 season.
“They (Methacton) made shots. They made us pay and they made threes,’ Pottsgrove head coach Scott Palladino said. “Our gameplan was to not leave Dyer open and for some reason we just got lost at times. We had mental lapses, and they made us pay.
“I thought we forced a little bit in the first half and even at the beginning of the third quarter when we made that run I thought it could have been even better. Our shot selection just wasn’t there tonight. It just wasn’t.’
Jaden Wade finished with 15 points and five boards while Nazhir Goldston added 10 as the Falcons overcame a 39-28 halftime deficit in the third quarter, with Jared Mayes’ layup capping off a 14-4 run that put the Falcons up 44-43 with twenty seconds remaining.
But deja vu then struck.
Tornetta hit a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining in the quarter, giving the Warriors a two-point lead entering the fourth where they utilized 3-pointers from Derrick Ellis and Dyer to help put the game away.
“To start the fourth, the three that T.J. hit at the end of the third quarter gave us a little bit of momentum and then Ellis hitting that huge three in our first set to start the fourth quarter gave us a little bit of a boost,’ Derstine said. “And then Dyer hit a big one, Tornetta hit a big one.’
It was strikingly similar to the last meeting except with different players. Ardman was the catalyst to the Warriors’ success back in January as he hit a 3-pointer from the right elbow at the buzzer before the Warriors went on a 13-0 run to come away with a 77-66 victory.
“You fight, you go to the locker room down 11. You get the kids in there motivated and they come out and respond,” Palladino said.
“They do everything you want them to do in that quarter and they take the lead with 20 seconds to go and we gave up a three. It was a backbreaker for us momentum wise.’
The Warriors did in the fourth quarter as they have done many times before, putting away teams with quality runs. Ardman was sensational in the quarter, going off for 12 points in the frame while the clutch shooting from Dyer (seven points) and free-throw shooting from Mann helped seal the victory.
“I give them credit,’ Palladino said of Methacton. “They made the plays tonight and we didn’t. We were right there at times and they showed why they’re the No. 2 team in the district.
“I have to tip my hat to them. That’s a great team. I think we’re a good team, we had a good season this year. (Being) 18-6 is nothing to shake your head at.’