FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — Pennsbury punched its ticket to Temple in unfamiliar territory.
An opponent and situation that is all too familiar.
Cameron Jones, Derrick Woods and Mekhi Bryant all figured in double-digits for Pennsbury as the Falcons overcame No. 2 Methacton, 68-58, in the District 1-AAAA quarterfinals Monday.
Now, a second-straight trip to Temple and a date with Abington awaits. The Falcons have dropped three-straight contests this season (eight straight overall) to Abington and will kickstart the semifinal doubleheader at 6 p.m. at The Liacouras Center.
It is the second-straight year the Falcons have knocked off a PAC-10 team to reach the district semifinals, topping Spring-Ford 69-52 last season. Pennsbury (22-5) reached the District 1-AAAA final last season before falling to Chester, 52-49.
“It’s great going back-to-back years,’ Pennsbury’s Cameron Jones said. “I think it’s never been done during Pennsbury’s history. It’s big for our team to go back there. It’s great knowing that we have to play Abington on Wednesday. We’ve played them three times already and we know we just have to get redemption and get that ‘˜W.’
“It’s definitely the biggest stage now. The SOL stage was a big stage obviously, but playing for a district final and beating Abington, that would be a great feeling.’
Jones finished the game with a game-high 25 points (including 13 in the first quarter) while Woods and Bryant added 18 and 15, respectively, as the Falcons expanded a late four-point second quarter lead into an eight-point advantage at the half, all coming before a 7-0 run in the third put the game out of reach.
Jones finished with five 3-pointers, including four in the first — all coming from the top of the key. Woods finished with a double-double, collecting 11 boards to go along with his 18 points.
“(In the) beginning of the game I was feeling it in warm-ups,’ Jones said. “I felt good. After I made that first shot (3-pointer in the first) I had good rhythm and it kept going after that.’
“They (Pennsbury) played a great game,’ Methacton head coach Jeff Derstine said. “Their guards shot really well early. We hung around. I thought we played well early, our guards were penetrating and creating shots.
“I was proud of how our kids played tough throughout the game. They played 32 minutes, they battled.’
The loss drops Methacton into the playback round where the Warriors will host Pennridge Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Chris McCarthy led the team, scoring 15 points while Sean Mann (13 points), Tom Dyer (12 points) and Justin Ardman (11 points) rounded out the quartet that finished in double-figures.
If history repeats itself, Methacton (23-4) should fare well after the loss. The Warriors haven’t lost back-to-back contests this season and have rattled off winning streaks of six, eight and eight after its three previous losses.
“Our guys have done a good job bouncing back from every loss we’ve had earlier in the season,’ Derstine said. “We know Pennridge is a really tough team. We need to take a look at it and say hey you want to enter the state tournament with the best seed possible. It’s not the same atmosphere for sure as going down and playing at Temple and the guys are disappointed about that but they are excited to step back out on the court and get after it on Wednesday.’
A trip to Temple wasn’t out of the question early for Methacton.
Led by eight points and a solid defensive effort on the 6-foot-8 Woods by McCarthy, Methacton withstood Jones’ 13-point barrage in the first to keep the game at a one-point deficit (17-16) entering the second.
With the deficit expanded to 31-21 midway through the second, a McCarthy layup, Ardman jumper and a pair of free throws apiece from Dyer and Mann helped cut the deficit to 33-29 with a few ticks left on the clock. However, Pennsbury’s Nick Cereby hit a layup before Woods put back Cereby’s miss on the and-1 attempt to make it 37-29 entering the half.
“We made that little run to cut it to four but that last possession in the half to make it an eight-point game was really tough,’ Derstine said.
Jones, Woods and company then helped seal it in the third, highlighted by a 7-0 run that was capped by a Jones’ crossover and step-back 3-pointer that made it 50-35. The run helped negate the nine-point quarter from Mann (three 3-pointers) and sent the fourth into a foul-shooting contest where the Falcons were able to shoot 10-of-13 from the line to seal the victory.
“In the locker room, we knew we were scoring pretty well on the offensive end; me, Mekhi, Derrick,’ Jones said. “But in the second half we had to come out with hard defense, get a couple of turnovers, and just play hard ‘˜D’ and get rebounds.
“Methacton is a patient team. They look for the best shot they can get and they aren’t selfish. We tried to pack it in, get a good stop, box out. On the offensive side we just tried to be up-tempo and not take bad shots.’