SPRINGFIELD- The third time was definitely the charm for the Devon Prep basketball team Wednesday night at Cardinal O’Hara High School.
After losing twice this season to West Catholic, the Tide won the game that mattered most as Devon Prep advanced to the PIAA Eastern Final with a wire to wire 60-53 triumph over the Burrs.
Devon Prep will now play District 2 champion Holy Redeemer Saturday at a time and place to be determined, one win away from the PIAA 3A state championship final.
Devon Prep (17-7) jumped out to a commanding 28-15 lead at halftime on a very hot 11 for 22 from the field in the first half. Jason Holloway led the Tide with 22 points on 7-for-7 shooting from the field and IV Pettit chipped in with 20 points as the Tide reversed the tables on the Burrs (21-6).
“The difference this time was that we knew what they were going to do and we countered that,” Pettit said. “And we had a very good scouting report on them plus we played them tonight on a bigger floor and I think that helped us. We got out to a big lead at halftime and that was key because when they made a run we had a cushion.”
West Catholic made its run in the third period when its pressure defense caused five Devon Prep turnovers and the Burrs, who shot a cold 7-for-23 in the first half, warmed up and downed three long three-balls and outscored the Tide 21-14 to cut the Devon prep lead to 42-36 after three periods. Adam Clark and Zion Stanford led the way for the Burrs as Stanford poured in 14 points and point guard Clark added 12 in the losing effort.
Allan Cieslak started things on a high note for the Tide in the fourth period as he drained a three-ball to up the Tide lead to 45-36 after 35 seconds of the fourth period. Stanford answered with a three-ball of his own to cut the Tide lead to 45-39 with 6:51 to play in the fourth period.
After Pettit scored in tight, Kareem Watson drained a long three-ball and the Tide lead was down to 47-43 with 5:03 to play in the fourth period. But Holloway drained a three -ball from the top of the elbow and the Tide was up 50-43 with 4: 09 to play in the fourth period.
“We lost to these guys twice in a row and we wanted the sone badly,” Holloway said. “We are a very close team that has played a lot of basketball together and we are like brothers. We really wanted to let it all hang out tonight.”
Holloway drained another three-ball to give the Tide a 53-46 lead with 2:22 to play in the fourth period and the Burrs were in desperation mode, gambling on defense and forced to foul the Devon Prep ball handlers. But the night belonged to Devon Prep as Pettit drained two free throws followed by Holloway going two for two at the charity stripe and it was the Tide who was moving on to the PIAA 3A semifinals as the Burrs season ended. Devon Prep was 11 for 12 from the foul line for the game.
“We played them tonight on a bigger floor and we knew they were long and athletic and we were smaller and quicker and when they made that run at us I thought our kids made sound basketball plays,” Devon Prep coach Jason Fisher said. “And in the first half when we jumped out to the lead we moved the ball very well and got a lot of good open looks. The kids played really well tonight.”