DALLASTOWN — William Penn tried to slam the door shut on Penncrest in Saturday afternoon’s PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball tourney first-round game.
The problem was, Penncrest wasn’t quite ready for its Cinderella postseason to end.
But after the District Three champion Bearcats saw their 15-point lead dwindle to four, they held on for a 66-57 win against the 10th-place finisher from District One at Dallastown High School.
“Teams aren’t going to quit at this level,’ said William Penn coach Troy Sowers. “They are going to fight until the end. It’s win or go home. I credit (Penncrest) more than I can say our guys weren’t working for it.’
William Penn (26-4) advances to Wednesday’s second round, where it will play District 12 runner-up Martin Luther King (20-8) at a site and time to be determined. Martin Luther King ran past District 11 third seed William Allen, 69-37, Saturday.
The Bearcats built a lead as large as 15 points in the third quarter only to see Penncrest senior guard Mike Doyle almost single-handedly will the Lions back into the game. The 6-1 Doyle connected on six 3-point goals and scored all of his game-high 24 points in the second half.
“Mike Doyle really put us on his shoulders there,’ said Penncrest coach Mike Doyle of his son. “He didn’t want to see his career end.’
Penncrest (17-11) closed to within four points at 55-51 with 4:49 left on a 3-pointer by senior guard Nolan Carroll, but William Penn senior forward Jahaire Wilson scored eight of his team-high 20 points after that to help the Bearcats move on. The 6-4 Wilson scored seven of William Penn’s final eight points.
“We were used to the quickness and speed,’ said Coach Doyle. “In the end, I think we weren’t ready for the length of their pressure defense. It kind of wore us down.’
The Bearcats trailed by three after the first quarter, but erupted for a 26-point second quarter to grab a 35-21 halftime lead. William Penn was 10-of-14 shooting from the field and out-rebounded Penncrest by an 8-3 margin in the quarter.
In that frame, sophomore guard Jacquez Casiano came off the bench to nail two of his three total 3-point goals, including one from the left corner with three seconds before the half. Casiano and 6-6 junior guard Kristopher Johnson both had six points in that quarter.
“(Casiano) has hit some big 3s for us,’ Sowers said. “This time of year, you need all your weapons. Sometimes, you don’t know who it is going to be, but (Casiano) was big for us in this one.’
While William Penn moves on to the round of 16 riding a 13-game winning streak, Penncrest’s storybook postseason run comes to an end. The Lions were seeded 28th in the District One tournament and managed to secure a state playoff berth.
Penncrest beat No. 5 seed Penn Wood in the opening round before losing to 12th-seeded Lower Merion. The Lions fought back through the loser’s bracket to grab the 10th and final District One Class AAAA opening in the state tourney.
“I’m so proud of my kids,’ Coach Doyle said. “There are a lot of tears in that locker room right now. They really believed they were going to keep on winning.’