WHITEMARSH — Defense early and free throws late.
That was the recipe for Plymouth Whitemarsh as it clinched a state playoff berth Wednesday night with a 49-35 victory over Springfield Delco in the second round of the District One AAAA playoffs at Colonial Gym.
The fourth-seeded Colonials (22-2) got out to a white-hot start, taking a 14-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game.
PW’s defense grabbed five steals, a jump-ball and grabbed a rebound on Springfield’s first seven possessions before the 20th-seeded Cougars got on the board.
“You hope that when you walk into this environment you take advantage of it,’ PW head coach Jim Donofrio said, noting that playing at home helped when the two teams are unfamiliar with each other. “We wanted to jump on it early, get the pace going.’
Three steals on the first three defensive possessions turned into three layups — two for Jimmy Murray and one for Cameron Johnson.
The next possession, another steal, resulted in a left-hand tomahawk slam by Xzavier Malone. The sophomore came right back next time up the floor with a jump shot to make it 10-0.
Alley-oops to Devon Monteiro-Gray and Johnson followed on the next two possessions to make it a 14-0 start.
After that, it was a pretty slow offensive night for the Colonials. They made seven field goals in the first three minutes of the game and only 12 over the final 29 minutes.