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Cheltenham holds off Brickus, Coatesville to reach District 1-6A semifinals

CHELTENHAM >> In a tight game late with a spot in the District 1-6A semifinals on the line, Jaelen McGlone knew extra effort was the necessity.

So, on a missed Panthers free throw with 64 seconds remaining, the senior Ride commit made sure to grab the rebound and put back in a basket, extending the margin over visiting Coatesville to six.

“I just made sure every time they shot the foul shot, I try to get the rebound,” McGlone said. “Extra two points, extra steal, any extra possession could help us in the long run.”

Jhamir Brickus and the No. 6 seed Red Raiders made a furious second-half rally, chopping a 15-point deficit in the third quarter down to just a point in the fourth. But McGlone and the No. 3 Panthers came up with those extra plays late – a few key buckets, free throws and stops in the final minutes to hold on for a 68-61 second-round victory Friday night.

“We just had to make sure we stayed focused,” McGlone said. “We had the lead, we had to make sure we didn’t lose the lead. We made the foul shots and the crowd kept us in it and we was cool from there.”

McGlone scored 16 of his team-high 22 points in the first half while Justin Moore added 16 points as the SOL American champ Panthers (23-3) advance to the district semifinals for the first time since 2017, when its run to a title that year was stopped by Coatesville.

“It’s great,” McGlone said. “Knowing that we lost to Coatesville a couple years ago at Temple it’s good to get the redemption back.”

Cheltenham takes on SOL National champ Bensalem – a 51-43 winner over No. 18 Downingtown East – 6 p.m. Tuesday at Temple’s Liacouras Center.  Top-Seed Methacton takes on No. 4 Chester in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m.

Brickus caught fire in the third quarter, scoring all 14 of Coatesville’s point in the period and collected 23 of his game-high 30 points in the second half.

“He was just more aggressive,” said Red Raiders coach Marc Turner of Brickus. “Our team was looking for him so that helps. You got to understand, he’s our best player, we’re going to go as far as he’s going to take us.”

 John Proctor finished with 11 points for the Red Raiders (18-7), who were trying to reach the district semifinals for a second straight season. Coatesville now hosts Downingtown East in playbacks for PIAA seeding Tuesday.

“You can’t dig yourself a 12-point deficit against a good team, that’s a tough grind then coming back,” Turner said. “I give Cheltenham credit, they did what they do. I think our guys really fought particularly hard in the second half, playing with a lot of effort and a couple of balls rimmed out that I would of wished gone in but that’s the way it works sometimes.”

Moore’s three-play with 3.3 seconds in the second quarter gave Cheltenham a 35-23 lead into halftime and the Panthers pushed their advantage to 15 three times in the third quarter – the last time at 45-20 on a Brandon Scott basket.

Cheltenham still led 48-37 at the start of the fourth but fueled by its full-court defense the Red Raiders began the final quarter with an 18-8 run, pulling within 56-55 on Dapree Bryant three-point play off a drive down the lane with 2:56 remaining.

“Just for us it’s our defensive intensity,” Turner said. “I thought we picked it up, that’s who we are. And again you just can’t wait until the second half to do that.”

After Cheltenham missed two free throws, Coatesville had a chance to take the lead but Brickus could not connect on a three and a jump ball went to the Panthers. A pull-up jumper from Travis Coleman put the Cheltenham up three.

“We just got rushed out of our game and we weren’t taking our time,” Moore said. “We like to play a fast-paced game but smart at the same time so we just had to lock in.”

Bryant’s try for a game-tying triple was off but the Red Raiders got the ball back still down 58-55 after a Panthers turnover.  Bryant couldn’t convert inside and trying for the rebound fouled Emfinger, who made both at the line for a 60-55 lead at 1:27.

Coatesville free throws chipped the margin to 60-57 at 1:11. Proctor picked up his fifth foul at 1:04 to give Emfinger two foul shots – he made the first, missed the second but McGlone was there for a putback for a 63-57 edge.

“Jaelen’s athleticism is crazy,” Moore said. “Came down with the rebound overtop of the defense and he was strong enough to go back up and make a play. And that was definitely a big boost for us to a six-point lead.”

A Brickus basket had the Red Raiders down 63-60 at 30.2 seconds before a Moore free throw at 29.1. Brickus was fouled on a drive – McGlone’s fifth – at 20.3 seconds and hit one at the line to make it 64-61.

Moore connected on two fouls shots at 14.7 seconds for a 66-61 lead with an Emfinger dunk putting the finishing touch on Cheltenham’s victory.

In the first quarter, consecutive baskets from McGlone – the second an alley-oop from Moore – had the Panthers leading 14-10 before a Brickus free throw at 0.2 seconds made it 14-11 at the end of the opening eight minutes.

Cheltenham grabbed a 23-15 lead in the second quarter after a 7-0 run capped by a McGlone 3-pointer. After a Proctor basket put the margin at 27-21, two from Coleman and a McGlone trey had the Panthers up 11.

“We just came out with energy and playing as a team, moving and passing the ball, everybody was scoring, getting looks and we just wanted it,” Moore said. “We just made sure we got a big lead to help us throughout the game get to Temple.”

Brickus’ jumper in the lane after his offensive rebound cut the margin to 32-23 but Moore drove to the basket, scored and drew a foul with 3.3 seconds left. His free throw had the Panthers leading by a dozen at the break.

McGlone’s three started scoring in the second half but Brickus answered with a trey as the senior guard carried the Red Raiders offense in the third. With Coatesville down 45-30, Brickus ran off seven straight points – a three-point play at 3:10, two inside off an inbounds then dropping in a runner to make it 45-37.

“We tried to take a couple charges on him, sometimes it was going our way sometimes it wasn’t,” Moore said. “And we just wanted to force him into the defense and make tougher decisions but he had a couple nice plays so we just had to lock in on him, make sure we shut him down.”

A McGlone free throw and Mike McClain putback gave Cheltenham at 48-37 at end of the third. Coatesville, however, scored the first eight points of the fourth to get within 48-45 after Proctor hit both ends of a 1-and-1 at 5:57.

Two McClain free throws and a Moore bucket had the Panthers up 52-45 before a 10-4 burst featuring three-point plays from Abdul Stewart and Bryant made it 56-55 with 2:56 remaining.

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