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Unionville blasts District 12 runner-up to set up another clash with Rustin

PHILADELPHIA – The outcome on Friday evening in the opening round of the PIAA Class 5A Playoffs in South Philly wasn’t a total surprise.

The Unionville boys’ basketball team anticipated a winning effort against Martin Luther King from the Philadelphia Public School League, but a complete and utter dismantling of the second seed from District 12?

“(King is) down one player. I don’t know if I am surprised,” said head coach Chris Cowles. “I feel like if we can execute, we can beat anybody. But we proved this season that we can also lose to just about anybody.”

The fifth place finisher in District 1, Unionville delivered a 54-29 masterpiece to move into the state’s Sweet 16, where it will face an all-to-familiar foe in West Chester Rustin on Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. The two Ches-Mont American rivals have met three times this season.

“It’s round four,” Cowles said. “I honestly don’t think we care who we play, it’s just a matter of wanting to continue to play.

“I’m sure it will be an intense game. I can guarantee that.”

Two of Cowles players, Bryce Whitlock and Logan Shanahan, agree with the latter. But …

“That’s what we wanted. We want to get our revenge,” Whitlock confirmed.

“We’ve played (Rustin) three times and they’ve won two, so it would be nice to even it up,” Shanahan added.

Now 20-7 overall, the Indians never trailed thanks to a sublime first half that was probably the squad’s most complete two-quarter effort of the season. Even Cowles – a notorious perfectionist — agrees.

“It was definitely a really good half,” he said. “I liked the execution on both ends.”

Against the Cougars (18-8 overall), Unionville was ultra-efficient offensively in the first half, and its zone defense was effective through three quarters, when the outcome had long been assured.

“We thought we could beat (Martin Luther King) pretty handily as long as we executed,” said Shanahan, who scored 11 of his game-high 13 points in the opening quarter. “It doesn’t surprise me at all.

“I thought we were relaxed and played really well.”

With Shanahan leading the way, Unionville raced out to a 22-8 lead after one quarter. The Indians buried their first four three-pointers, with Shanahan going three-for-three.

“Our starting five is connected,” Cowles said. “And when one of them isn’t it’s obvious.”

In the second quarter, Unionville was patient against an overplaying defense, waited for a King mistake and added the backdoor to the arsenal. The Indians opened the game on a stunning 33-10 spree and took a 21-point lead into the break.

“It’s just part of our offensive principals,” Whitlock explained. “That’s just how we play. That’s what we do. We were patient, played our game and if we do that, things will come for us.”

When the Indians scored six of the first seven of the second half, the lead maxed out at 42-16. The Cougars had all kinds of trouble penetrating Unionville’s zone.

“We understood (Martin Luther King’s) personnel within the zone and we guarded them accordingly,” Cowles said.

Whitlock and teammate Sean Neylon each finished with 12 points. Nymir Hunt led King with 11.

“This is win-or-go-home situation,” Whitlock said. “We just played our hearts out on defense.

“I feel like we can compete with any team in the state. But this was a great win for us.”

Recently, an unnamed preseason goal that the Indians are chasing was unearthed, and Cowles confirmed that a first round state playoff win is not the goal.

“The goal is still out there,” he chuckled. “We aren’t talking about what the goal is, but we are on the road to the goal.”

Unionville 54, Martin Luther King 29

Unionville                                                     22 14 3 10 — 54

Martin Luther King                                                8 7 3 11 — 29

UNIONVILLE – Regenye 0 2-2 2; P. Kucharczuk 1 3-4 6; Shanahan 5 0-0 13; Nowoswiat 1 1-1 3; Passarello 2 2-5 6; Whitlock 6 0-0 12. Totals 19 10-14 54.

MARTIN LUTHER KING – Robinson 3 0-0 7; Montague 1 0-0 2; Small1 2-4 4; Andrews 1 1-2 3; Gadsden 1 0-0 2. Hunt 4 2-2 11. Totals 11 5-8 29.

Three-point goals: Kucharczuk, Neylon 2, Shanahan 3, Robinson, Hunt.



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