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Defense is the key to Henderson’s triumph over Bishop Shanahan

WEST CHESTER >> Friday was a very long day for West Chester Henderson head basketball coach Jason Ritter, and it really had nothing to do with the outcome of his team’s 70-57 Ches-Mont National victory over visiting Bishop Shanahan.

“This win is a credit to my coaching staff and the kids,” Ritter explained. “I just got off a flight from Cancun and came right here. My brother got married, so I missed (Tuesday’s) Avon Grove game and some practices.

“My assistants did all of the game-planning. They get all of the credit, along with the players.”

The Warriors improve to 4-2 in the division (9-5 overall) and have won three straight. The Eagles fall to 1-5, 4-11 but are fourth in the latest District 1 4A Power Rankings.

“In the Ches-Mont, there is no night off in either division,” said Shanahan head coach John Dougherty. “So the way we look at it is that these games are only going to prepare us for the districts.”

The Eagles were stymied by the Henderson defense for the first three quarters. In fact, Shanahan managed just one bucket from the floor in the opening 10:27.

“We gave up 82 to Avon Grove (Tuesday) so we just wanted to pick up the defense,” said K’Mari Smith, the Warriors’ lone senior starter. “We’ve been working on it quite a bit in the last few practices. We know we can score the ball.”

Right from the start, the Eagles had difficulty scoring. Henderson led by nine through one quarter, and ended the first half on a 9-1 scoring run to take a 27-13 lead into the halftime break. In the first 16 minutes of action, Shanahan had just three field goals.

“We had open looks and just did not knock them down,” Dougherty said. “It would have been a different game if we had been able to.

“It’s almost like we don’t start playing the way we can, and should, until things are dire. We’ve tried some things to address that in practice, but sometimes it doesn’t relate to what happens in games.”

It was more of the same in the third as the Warriors ended the period on a 14-4 run to extend the margin to 43-23. In the final eight minutes, however, Shanahan started connecting from everywhere – including six from 3-point range.

The Eagles wound up with a bunch more points in the final period (34) than in the first three combined (23). And even though a 3-pointer by senior guard Ben Rodner-Tims with less than two minutes remaining sliced the lead to eight, it wasn’t enough.

“When we put our minds to it, we can really guard,” Ritter pointed out. “But we have lapses. They are teenagers and they go through ebbs and flows. Shanahan really put it to us in the fourth quarter, which I wasn’t happy with.

“I could tell we were fatigued in the fourth quarter. Our guards are too good to turn it over that much. That was disappointing.”

Junior Nyle Ralph-Beyer paced Henderson with 21 points, Connor Fleet scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Smith – who is a steadying influence — chipped in 12.

“K’Mari is an old soul,” Ritter said. “He has an old man game – very crafty and shifty – and he uses his body well. He is one of the most unselfish players on our team.

“We also had some guys who played major minutes off the bench like Jesse (Smith, who added nine points). They also push our starters in practice, and that’s how you get better.”

Rodner-Tims led all scorers with 25 points, but until the final period he had little help. Seniors Roman Alexander and Charley Frederico each scored 11, but 20 of their combined 22 came in the final quarter.

West Chester Henderson 70, Bishop Shanahan 57

Bishop Shanahan                            4 9 10 34 — 57

W.C. Henderson                             13 14 16 27 — 70

BISHOP SHANAHAN – Alexander 4 0-0 11; Federico 5 0-2 11; Griffin 0 2-2 2; Kapczynski 1 0-0 3; Rodner-Tims 5 13-17 25; Scaggs 1 0-0 2; Seifried 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 15-19 57.

W.C. HENDERSON – Ralph-Beyer 7 3-4 21; Bell 1 0-0 3; K. Smith 6 0-3 12; Fleet 4 9-10 17; J. Smith 3 1-2 9; Surowiec 1 0-0 2; Nelson 0 2-4 2; McFadden 2 0-1 4. Totals 24 15-24 70.

Three-pointers: Alexander 3, Federico, Kapczynski, Rodner-Tims 2, Seifried, Ralph-Beyer 2, Bell, J. Smith 2.

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