TREDYFFRIN — The Conestoga boys basketball team’s motto is “Together as One.’ In the second round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs Wednesday night, the host Pioneers proved how they live that motto.
Conestoga completely shut down 1,000-point scorer Jawan Collins, and harassed Academy Park into a 10-for-47 (21 percent) nightmare from the field as they downed Academy Park, 54-31. The win puts the top-seeded Pioneers (22-3) into the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs for the second season in a row and sets up a rematch against archrival Ridley in the quarterfinals Friday night at home at 7 p.m. The 17th-seeded Knights (17-7) gets a home game against Great Valley in the consolation round Friday.
“To make the state tournament for the second year in a row is a testament to all the hard work these kids have put in,’ Conestoga coach Mike Troy said. “They played very good defense tonight on a team with two 1,000-point scorers, and I thought we rebounded the basketball well also. This team does not care who scores the points.
“They are a very selfless team,. They find the open man and they look for each other and share the basketball. Tonight, a guy like Jack Lambert, who has worked so hard all year and really helped us out, gets some nice passes and he converts. This is the type of kids that are on this team.’
Conestoga jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a Daryl Caldwell bucket and never trailed. The Knights shot just 4-for-23 in the first half as Conestoga opened up a 24-10 halftime edge.
For the game, Andrew Diehl and Caldwell led the balanced attack with 12 points each. Martin Dorsey had 11 and Dan Vila chipped in nine.
“We don’t care who scores for us,’ Dorsey said. “We just look for the open man and get him the ball. To make states again is a great feeling. We lost in the first round last year, so we would like to keep the dream alive a little longer this year. And we would love to win the district title. They have been goals for us coming into the season.’
Conestoga continually confused the Knights with beautiful backdoor cuts along with passes that were crisp and clean. Caldwell dished out seven assists and scored eight of his 12 points in the first half. Conestoga also won the battle on the glass as Diehl grabbed 12 rebounds and Dorsey hauled in seven.
The third period was when the Pioneers broke the Knights’ back. With the Academy Park defense gambling, Conestoga ran a clinic on offense. Caldwell took a feed from Dorsey to open the second half. Then, after a Collins miss, Caldwell took a pass from Diehl to score on a layup to make it 28-10.
Conestoga poured it on to outscore Academy Park, 16-6 in the third to take a sizable 40-16 rout into the fourth.
Meanwhile, senior guard James vanderventer helped hold Collins to just seven points for the game, far under his 21-point average.
“James did a great lockdown job on number four (Collins),’ Caldwell said. “I helped him a little, but he did not need my help. James shut him down. We had balanced scoring again. We don’t care who scores or gets the most points, we just worry about wins.’
Troy cleared his bench early in the fourth, the Knights would go on to outscore the Pioneers, 15-14 in the period.
Conestoga now prepares to seek revenge on Ridley, which beat them in the Central League championship game last week. The Pioneers defeated the Green Raiders twice during the regular season.
“Ridley is a very good team,’ Troy said. “We just have to come out and play our game. That is all we can control. It will be a good game on Friday.’