FRANCONIA >> The old saying goes it’s not about the start, but instead the finish.
Sometimes the start is so overwhelming the finish doesn’t really come into play. Saturday night, Souderton started fast, kept going and by the time they were forced to take a break, they were firmly in control against visiting Methacton.
A dominant first half by the Indians gave them all the cushion they needed in a 49-31 win. While Big Red was not as potent in the second half, they had done enough to manage out the victory.
“We came out and did what we needed to do,” Souderton coach Charles Kornegay said. “We had lost three in a row so we were really hungry for a win. I thought our guys came out with a sense of urgency tonight from the start and I was happy to see that.”
There are fast starts, and then there’s what Souderton did to its guests. The Indians forced a turnover on Methacton’s first possession and wasted little time working with it, as Michael Bealer splashed a corner 3-pointer to open the scoring 30 seconds in.
That started a 7-0 run that prompted Warriors coach Jeff Derstine to call a timeout with 5:06 left. Both would become a familiar refrain in the first half. Souderton piled on six more points, with Ian Beardsley and Austin Eberhart teaming for four of them, to force a second Methacton timeout.
“We came out and imposed our will from the first minute, played at our pace and played solid,” Kornegay said. “We defended, rebounded and I thought we shared the ball well tonight early. We had extra passes and took better shots.”
Souderton’s run topped out at 19-0 before Stephan Savage finally broke the drought with a lay-up with 38.1 seconds left in the first quarter. Prior to that, all five Souderton starters had scored at least two points, with big man Eberhart starting 3-of-3.
The second quarter wasn’t much better for the Warriors, who watched open look after open look rattle out of the rim or drift off-target. Meanwhile, Beardsley and Tracey Simsick spurred Souderton. Simsick had a hand in nine of the team’s last 11 points in the first half, scoring seven.
Simsick, a senior wing, led the team with 20 points and 12 rebounds while the rest of the team filled in well around him. Eberhart scored eight on 4-of-5 shooting, Beardsley finished with six and both Bealer and Ty Salone put in five. Beardsley’s energy was especially evident and while the senior didn’t blow up any area of the stat sheet, his hustle was a spark in Souderton’s big first half.
“We got beat up pretty good by Hatboro-Horsham so I think everyone thought about that last night and used it as motivation to come out today,” Beardsley said. “I try, as a senior, I’ve been around with these guys for a long time so I try to lead by example and be in the right spots at the right times. Everyone did a good job tonight of doing their jobs.”
“We’ve been on him to get more involved on the offensive rebounds,” Kornegay said. “A lot of guards are not as strong as he is, so that’s one advantage we’ll have night in and night out. We’ve been on him to get a bit more physical and play a little more aggressive.”
Beardsley said the team did a much better job of playing at its pace and not rushing through things on offense. Even if shots didn’t go in, Big Red worked the ball and ran through sets on offense instead of taking the first available look. No player had more than three assists, but that was a result of good ball movement.
Souderton had a decent start to the third, with Simsick splashing in a pair of 3-pointers but things cooled off heavily after that. Beardsley said it was the team starting to speed things up again and getting away from what worked for them in the first half. Incidentally, it was Beardsley who snapped the 6:24 scoring drought with a put-back with just one second left in the third.
“We’re not trying to be a one-dimensional team, we’re looking for spots where everyone is contributing,” Beardsley said. “Everyone else has to do their jobs in order for us to win.”
The senior also noted the team’s strong bench play so far, but also felt things got sloppy after halftime.
“We got sped up and started turning the ball over a lot,” Beardsley said. “That’s a spot where we can take a timeout, slow it back down and get into our stuff. When we run it the right way, we’re going to get looks but we have to run it hard. I thought we were doing it slow and as a result we were getting bad shots.”
Savage led Methacton with eight points while Jake Cordarelli put in six. The Warriors did have some bad luck as a number of open shots refused to do down, but they also couldn’t stop Souderton in key stretches.
Kornegay said he wasn’t happy with the team’s play in the second half, saying it was an opportunity to continue to run sets the right way and refine them. But, he voiced that to his team and felt the message got across.
Now, the Indians turn to the heart of conference play with a better picture of what it will take to win in the SOL.
“This is a big win, almost a springboard,” Beardsley said. “We have to make sure we’re working hard in practice so we’re ready to go get it all year.”