SPRINGFIELD >> The Oreland Lions Holiday Basketball Tournament has been around for a long time, 60 years to be exact, and in that time there have been a lot of close, hard fought games that have come from the tournament.
Saturday night’s championship games were no different, as the Jenkintown girls’ team beat Phil-Mont 53-52 in overtime on a buzzer beater and Phil-Mont boys team beat New Foundations 56-53 in another game that game down to the wire.
The first game of the night, the girl’s championship game, saw two familiar foes face off for the right to take home the first place trophy.
Tip-off tournaments are usually a more relaxed atmosphere, where coaches try to implement new strategies and get a feel for their team, but that was not the case for these two. As a matter of fact, it felt more like a playoff game than it did a season opening tournament game.
“We’ve built a good rivalry the last couple years.” Jenkintown girls coach Jim Romano said. “Over the last couple of years they’ve been the gem of our league so we just hustled, we started three sophomores and two freshmen and just worked hard tonight.”
The suspense started at the end of regulation when, down two, the Drakes’ Ashley Kremp hit a jumper from the top of the key with just four seconds remaining to send it into overtime and silence the crowd of mostly Phil-Mont supporters.
The Falcons shot out to a six-point lead to start the overtime period, but they couldn’t sustain their momentum as the Jenkintown press wore them down and forced them into some costly turnovers, letting them crawl back into the game.
With the Drakes down one with the ball and just five seconds on the clock it was Kremp again that looked to shoot, only this time her shot was blocked and her teammate, sophomore Amelia Mulvaney, found the loose ball and put it up for the game winning bucket as time expired.
“I knew it was a close game and that we needed to make a shot,” Mulvaney said. “I just really wanted to win. I saw the rebound come off her hand and I just went and got it and hit the shot.”
Phil-Mont’s front court duo of Keyen Green and Tracey Goodman were as advertised in this one, dominating the low post on the offensive side of the court. Green finished the night with 16 points and earned all-tournament team honors after the game, but Goodman may have been even more impressive as she finished with a game high 18 points.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, their backcourt struggled with the Drakes pressure and turned the ball over far too much to be win this one.
The boys final was just as exciting as the girls, but this time Phil-Mont was able to squeak out the win.
Falcons point guard Noah Baldez was dominant in this one, finishing with a game high 22 and doing a great job controlling the game from the point.
“I was encouraging him (Baldez) tonight because he has all the ability,” Phil-Mont boys coach Glenn Dolton said. “He’s a real good point guard but I’ve wanted him to be a scorer too because it gives us another dimension.”
In the second quarter both Baldez and Phil-Mont’s leading scorer last season, Sean Griffi, found themselves in foul trouble and having to sit out. That’s when the depth of the Falcons showed as their bench stepped up and kept them in the game without their two stars.
“I thought we started a little sluggish,” Dolton said. “I was very proud with how we handled the second quarter. We had guys in major foul trouble and we were able to keep it close, work the ball, and some guys made some big shots so I’m glad that we had a game that was a good battle at the beginning of the season.”
It was definitely a battle for both teams. With 1:30 left in the game it was tied at 51, but some sloppy play from New Foundations and some clutch free throw shooting from the Falcons iced the game and gave them the tournament championship.