LOWER GWYNEDD >> DJ Cerisier may be making his decision on where he will be playing college football in the next few days, but the Upper Dublin guard isn’t finished with basketball quite yet.
Cerisier scored or assisted on 14 of the Cardinals final 19 points as they rallied from an eight-point deficit late in the third quarter to pick up their 12th straight win, a 43-39 Suburban One League Liberty Division victory over rival Wissahickon Friday night at Wissahickon High School.
“DJ was the hero at the end there,” Upper Dublin coach Derek Brooks said. “He made probably seven, eight plays that were huge for us. Knocking down free throws, finishing at the rim. He attacked. He didn’t second-guess himself.”
The senior scored his first basket of the game to get his side within six late in the third quarter. After a defensive stop, he found classmate Terrell Turner for a buzzer-beating layup to send the game to the fourth quarter with the Cardinals behind by four, 32-28.
Junior Brady Fogle grabbed a steal in the offensive end early in the fourth. While laying on the ground, he gave the ball to Griffin Pensabene. Pensabene got it back to Fogle for a corner three to make it a one-point game. Fogle split a pair of free throws with 5:52 remaining to tie the game, 32-32.
“Diving on the floor, you battle for it, you hit an open guy,” Brooks said of Fogle. “He doesn’t sit and wait. He pops up, gets to the spot and buries it. That’s a huge swing.”
Cerisier scored the next 10 points for Upper Dublin (15-4, 11-2 SOL Liberty). A pair of acrobatic layups and a pullup jumper, while Wissahickon’s Earl Stout converted a tough drive, gave the Cardinals a 38-34 lead with 2:10 to go.
“My mindset is no one is going to stop me,” Cerisier, a cornerback and wide receiver on the football field who’s deciding between Duquesne and New Hampshire, said.
“I was pretty confident. Every shot I took I thought I was going to make it.”
Cerisier extended a two-point lead to four when he hit two free throws with less than 50 seconds remaining, but Wissahickon’s Dominic Vacciano responded with a three-pointer from the right wing to get the Trojans (9-10, 8-5 SOL Liberty) within one, 40-39.
After the Cardinals missed the front end of a one-and-one, Wiss called timeout with 23.4 seconds to play. Upper Dublin defended for more than 15 seconds before a long three-pointer was off the mark.
“During this 12-game stretch our defense has really been consistent every time,” Brooks said. “It’s been really good. We’ve had nights like this where we only have 43 points, but to be able to win with 43 points and you can’t really run anything that you feel like is good, it’s like – all right, wow. When you have a good offensive night, now its’ going to be really tough to beat you.”
Cerisier was fouled with 5.6 seconds on the clock and hit both shots, extending a one-point lead to three, 42-39. On the ensuing possession, he fouled to keep the Trojans from getting off a game-tying shot attempt.
“Cerisier was the difference-maker in that fourth quarter,” Wiss coach Kyle Wilson said. “He goes and gets the tough bucket for them when they need it and ice water in the veins with those free throws. In a game like that, it’s a game of inches. That’s the difference. Instead of it being two points it’s three points. Instead of it being a three-point, they’re at a four-point (lead) at the end. They were just a little more grittier at that point.”
Wiss missed the front end of a one-and-one and Ryan Mulroy split his free throws at the other end to make it a four-point game and seal Upper Dublin’s win, 43-39.
Fogle led the Cardinals with 13 points while Cerisier added 12 and Seaton Kukla had seven.
Vacchiano led the Trojans with 14 points and hit four three-pointers. Jaylon Williams joined him in double figures with 11.
Williams hit a three-pointer in the first quarter to give the Trojans 10 points and end the “silent” portion of Silent Night, when the student section dresses in costumes and sits quietly before erupting and standing the rest of the game. Williams’ triple gave the Trojans a 10-7 lead.
“I think it’s a great atmosphere for both communities,” Wilson said, “especially two rival teams. They’re 15-4 and we’re 9-10, but if someone walked in the gym they’d never know. We had that rough start to the game. I said, ‘I love how you’re playing guys, but we need to get through those small lapses where we don’t score buckets.’ Credit to (Upper Dublin). They’re kids just keep on rolling. They’re a real nice team.”
Turner made a layup at the end of the first quarter to give the Cardinals an 11-10 lead, but it didn’t last long. Vacchiano hit a pair of threes in the second quarter as the Trojans won the frame, 12-5, to take a 22-16 lead into halftime.
Upper Dublin 43, Wissahickon 39
Upper Dublin 11 5 12 15 – 43
Wissahickon 10 12 10 7 – 39
Upper Dublin: DJ Cerisier 4 4-4 12, Ryan Mulroy 0 3-6 3, Mason Pensabene 1 0-1 2, Seaton Kukla 2 2-2 7, Brady Fogle 4 3-4 13, Chris Kohlbrenner 0 0-0 0, Griffin Pensabene 1 0-2 2, Terrell Turner 2 0-0 4. Total 14 12-19 43.
Wissahickon: Jaylon Williams 4 2-2 11, Owen Coughlin 0 0-0 0, Andrew Slackman 2 1-3 5, Dominic Vacchiano 5 0-2 14, Earl Stout 2 0-1 5, Will Kirkpatrick 2 0-0 4, Brayden Ryan 0 0-0 0, Kevin Cupid 0 0-0 0. Total 15 3-8 39.
3-point goals: UD: Seaton Kukla, Brady Fogle 2. W: Jaylon Williams, Earl Stout, Dominic Vacchiano 4.