Connect with us

Boys Basketball

Chip chasing Pope John Paul II handles Phoenixville 55-43 in PAC semifinal

Pope John Paul II’s Kevin Green (1) scores over Phoenixville’s Jackson Kuranda (44) during a PAC Final Four game Friday at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue - MediaNews Group)

ROYERSFORD >> The Pope John Paul II boys basketball team entered the 2021-22 season with unfinished business.

The Golden Panthers earned the program’s first Pioneer Athletic Conference championship in a decade as they finished as the league’s regular season champs in  2020-21, but a chance to compete in a league title game eluded PJP.

Behind a 19-point night from senior J.P. Baron and contributions across the board on the defensive end, the Golden Panthers earned that opportunity on Friday night when they took down Frontier rival Phoenixville, 55-43, at Spring-Ford in a PAC Final Four game.

“We’re definitely pumped,” Baron said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to get back to the PAC championship. Sophomore year, it was a little different for me because I was the new kid, I was a role player. Now as a leader, I’m pumped. I’m ready.”

Pope John Paul II senior J.P. Baron celebrates on his way down the court during the Golden Panthers’ PAC Final Four win over Phoenixville on Friday night at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Senior Jaden Workman chipped in 11 points and senior Dylan Russ had 10 for the Golden Panthers, who set up a rematch of the most recent league title game (2020) against Methacton, the winner’s of the last three PAC postseason tournaments.

“It’s awesome,” Russ said. “We just played a great game. We knew what the game plan was coming in, we executed and now we’re back playing in the PAC chip.”


Pope John Paul II (13-7) led wire-to-wire, scoring the first six points of the game and getting up by as many as 10 points in the second quarter. The Phantoms (17-7) chipped the Golden Panthers lead down to two, 19-17, and pulled within a score on multiple occasions, but PJP’s veterans helped their team answer every time.

An early 26-17 lead in the third quarter was trimmed down to 26-24. The Golden Panthers responded with eight straight and went into the third quarter with a 41-30 lead when Workman beat the buzzer from the logo.

Senior Kevin Green, who scored seven, put the Golden Panthers up 13 early in the fourth, and there was never really a doubt the rest of the way.

“We huddled on one of the foul shots, I forget if it was in the third or fourth quarter,” Baron said. “I said, ‘Stay together, next play.’ It’s one of things I feel we need to do a lot, just huddle. Kind of remind each other that we’re still in this game, still winning and we need to finish it out.”

Phoenixville’s Gabe Massenburg, center, passes out of a double team from Pope John Paul II’s J.P. Baron, left, and Dylan Russ during a PAC Final Four game Friday at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Baron scored nine of his team’s 19 first-half points, and scored eight in the third as PJP retook control, knocking down a pair of threes.

The senior guard was at the end of the Golden Panthers’ rotation the last time PJP played in the PAC postseason, but he’s improved his game each of the past two seasons, leading the PAC in scoring this year and guiding his team to a title game appearance.

“It’s definitely special kind of going from a role player to a leader, trying to do my best to lead by my action and to lead by my words,” Baron said. “For the younger guys to kind of look up to me to be the best that we can be.”


Pope John Paul II’s Dylan Russ shoots a basket against Phoenixville during a PAC Final Four game Friday at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Senior forward Gabe Massenburg led Phoenixville with 13 points, though Russ, giving up a half of foot in height, made things tough for him all night. Senior Jackson Kuranda and Chase McDonnell both had eight in the loss.

The Phantoms, who advanced to the District 1-5A semifinal in 2021, hope to have plenty of basketball still ahead of them as they’re currently at No. 3 in the Class 5A rankings. The District 1-5A tournament starts Feb. 18, and with a likely bye Phoenixville will return to the court Feb. 23 to host a second-round playoff game.

Back at Spring-Ford on Tuesday, Pope John Paul II will face Methacton, who defeated PJP 55-51 earlier this season and cruised by the Golden Panthers, 74-49, in the 2020 title game.

“It’s going to be a great time,” Russ said. “We played Methacton earlier in the year at our place, and it was great. Student sections were both there. It was a great time, so I’m expecting the same thing, maybe even a little bit more, for the PAC chip.”

Phoenixville’s Justin English (35) scores over Pope John Paul II’s Aiden O’Brien (11) during a PAC Final Four game Friday at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Pope John Paul II’s J.P. Baron (15) scores a bucket as Phoenixville’s Zavier Mayo defends during a PAC Final Four game Friday at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Phoenixville’s Chase McDonnell (11) scores an and-one against Pope John Paul II during a PAC Final Four game Friday at Spring-Ford. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)


Pope John Paul II910221455


Date Time League Season
02/11/2022 7:45 pm PAC 2021


0Zahaire Savage01201
3Jake Stec10002
5Zach Bruni20015
11Chase McDonnell32508
21Zavier Mayo20004
34Gabe Massenburg533013
35Justin English10002
40Max Lebisky00000
41Jackson Kuranda30028

Pope John Paul II

1Kevin Green23307
4Jaden Workman422111
5Luke Sykes00000
11Aiden O’Brien00000
15JP Baron800319
23Trey Rogers30028
34Dylan Russ344010

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

3 × three =


More in Boys Basketball