Boys Hoops: Davis right on time for Upper Darby
By MARK HOSTUTLER, email@example.com/27/2006
LOWER MERION - Uncharacteristically poor shooting from the perimeter and an inability to finish around the rim over the last week ensured that the Upper Darby boys basketball team suffered through its worst stretch of the season.
The Royals, who entered that span on a 10-game winning streak, split overtime tilts with Conestoga and Haverford, causing fans to wonder if perhaps they peaked too early this winter.
Thursday night after road warrior Upper Darby outlasted Lower Merion, 60-56, in a Central League thriller, however, the visitor not only proved its critics wrong, but also redirected such speculation on the host.
The Royals' win marked the second time in less than a week that an opponent waltzed into the Aces' den and stole a victory on their home floor.
And Upper Darby (16-3, 11-3), the fourth-ranked club in the Daily Times Super 7, did so in dramatic fashion.
With the Royals down, 56-55, with less than 30 seconds remaining, forward Kevon Davis kissed a wild, off-balance layup off the glass to give his squad a one-point lead.
"I thought I got fouled, so I figured I'd just throw the ball up at the basket," said Davis, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. "Fortunately, it went through and gave me the biggest win of my career."
Lower Merion's ensuing inbounds pass went awry, giving the ball back to the visitors, who dumped the ball back inside to Davis, who was fouled in the act of shooting.
The 6-1 senior came out of a timeout, calmly stepped to the charity stripe and buried two free throws, yielding the Royals a three-point lead at 59-56 with 12 seconds left on the clock.
"(Upper Darby) coach (Bob Miller) kept saying during the timeout that I was going to make them," Davis said. "He was drawing up plays for after two makes, as if there wasn't any question I'd hit them."
After an unsuccessful Ace possession, junior guard Clinton Cole iced the game with another foul shot, his 12th and final point of the night, as the visiting fans went berserk.
The contest was truly a tale of two halves for Upper Darby, which trailed by nine points at the end of the first, but outscored the Aces (15-4, 12-2) by the same margin in the third quarter to knot the contest entering the fourth frame.
"I told our kids at halftime that the game was ours," Miller said. "I saw some of their (Lower Merion's) players tugging at their shorts toward the end of the first half. The goal was to press them like we're capable of. And I almost threw someone in the shower to get my point across. "We honestly believe that if we're in the game in the fourth quarter, we're gonna win."
Cole quickly buried a 3-pointer from the parking lot to hand the Royals their first lead of the night. Then, one of his team's unsung heroes took his game to another level.
Senior swingman Dontae Rogers stepped up by scoring a team-high 15 points on several big shots in the second half. Furthermore, he relieved the pressure placed on his floor general, Tad Gillis, by bringing the ball up the court as a point forward, a role pioneered by future NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. Rogers' versatility put his defender - Lower Merion's Garrett Williamson, a more heralded college prospect - in foul trouble.
"I'll do anything to help my team win, especially on the defensive end of the floor," the 6-1 Rogers said. "As a senior, I wanted this game so badly. We've had a history of being blown out in this gym, so I was just trying to set the tone tonight and be a leader."
Junior guard Elie Daniel and reserve wing Brandon Robinson added eight points apiece off the bench. Ace Ryan Brooks hit for a game-high 23 points, including the 1,000th of his career.
With solid wins over Glen Mills, Academy Park, Reading, Springfield, Conestoga, Strawberry Mansion and now Lower Merion, Upper Darby, which appears poised for a third-place league finish, may have all but locked up a seed within the 9-11 range in the district playoffs.
"This whole year has just been unbelievable," Rogers said. "We're just hoping the magic doesn't run out." In other Central League action:
Springfield 60, Penncrest 51
Dan Geriot tallied 22 points, and Chris VonTanhausen pumped in 12, all on treys, for the Cougars, who moved into a first-place tie with Lower Merion.
Steve Sharp's 22 points, nine rebounds and three blocks paced the Lions, who cut their deficit to two points with 1:38 remaining. Greg Tyrrell added 12 points.
Ridley 58, Radnor 51
Steve Egee (18 points), Dan Robinson (12) and Marcus Payton (10) each reached double figures for the Green Raiders.
Glenn Washington scored a team-high 15 points for the Red Raiders, while point guard Taylor Smith had 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Conestoga 52, Haverford 50
Brian Murphy's team-high 16 points weren't enough for the Fords.
American Christian 85, Mount Zion (N.C.) 84
The Eagles avenged a five-point loss in late November by overcoming a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Tyreke Evans poured in 38 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Nasir Robinson (19 points, 11 boards) also pitched in with a double-double.
©The Daily Times 2006
Griffinís shot finishes off Millsí comeback
ROB KNOX, Special to The Times01/21/2006
THORNBURY -- With a ferocious press that had to be seen to be believed, the Glen Mills boys basketball team overcame a 21-point second-half deficit and beat Penn Wood, 57-56, in a pulse-pounder of a Del Val League treasure Friday afternoon at the raucous Harrison Athletic Center.
The Battliní Bulls amazing comeback wasnít cemented until Shane Johnsonís missed free throw that would have tied the game with one second remaining fell into the waiting hands of Vernie Griffin touching off a huge celebration.
Jubilant and relieved Glen Mills players jumped into each otherís arms and slapped hands with their faithful student body, who deserve a major assist in helping the Bulls pull off one of the greatest comebacks in recent county boys basketball history.
Meanwhile, Penn Wood players trudged slowly back to their locker room confused and dazed with tears in their eyes and shirts over their faces. This one simply hurt too bad for Penn Wood, which watched a 43-22 lead with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter evaporate faster than air in a balloon.
Griffin, who scored eight of his 10 points in the final four minutes of the game, provided the winning margin for the Bulls when he knifed down the lane and threw up a twisted shot uglier than a knuckleball with six seconds remaining for a 57-55 advantage. It was Glen Millsí second lead of the game.
Penn Wood, which held the lead for the first 31 minutes, 2 seconds of the game,had a chance to force overtime when Johnson was fouled five seconds later. As he stood at the line, the cacophony of noise swelled to ear-splitting levels. With the Glen Mills student body in full throat, standing and stomping, Johnson calmly swished the front end of a one-and-one. However, he was long with the second one.
"I was expecting to get fouled on that drive to the basket," Griffin said. "Then when I didnít hear a whistle, I just threw up the shot. It was ugly, but it went in. We just stayed together and we kept believing. Plus, we threw every press that we had at Penn Wood in the fourth quarter to try and force some turnovers."
Penn Woodís blizzard of 11 fourth-quarter turnovers led to an avalanche of 28 Glen Mills points in the final eight minutes. In addition to their malady of turnovers, Penn Wood missed the front end of two one-and-ones.
The Patriots opened the quarter with a seemingly comfortable 45-29 lead. However, faster than the speed of sound, the Bulls shaved six points off the lead in the opening 32 seconds. The crowd, which was silenced for most of the game, sprang to life. They did the wave and turned the headache-o-meter up to triple-duper migraine.
The Bulls mixed up their presses in the fourth quarter, switching between defending and not defending the inbound pass, which led to several easy baskets by Zaire Washington, who notched eight of his 11 points in the frenetic fourth quarter. However, some people in attendance believe Penn Wood lost its aggressiveness when it began holding the ball in the third quarter with a 43-26 lead.
Even when Penn Wood showed poise and resolve in responding to Glen Millsí early fourth-quarter charge, the Patriots simply could not hold off the Bulls. Penn Wood held a 53-41 lead with less than five minutes remaining before Glen Mills scored 14 consecutive points, highlighted by a Griffin layup with 58 seconds remaining for a 55-53 Glen Mills lead. Bernard Freeman tied the game 14 seconds later when he followed up a missed shot.
"I thought it was the right decision," Penn Wood coach Rap Curry said of his strategy. "We took five minutes off the clock and lost four points off the lead. We werenít making adjustments and I thought I could burn some time without burning timeouts. I mean, you can always second-guess yourself after a game like this. We lost the game because we didnít handle their pressure."
Asked if he was baffled about Penn Wood slowing the game down, Glen Mills coach Craig Mellinger was thinking about his own predicament.
"We all do different things at different times because we believe we know our teams better than anybody else," Mellinger said. "It bothered me actually that he could do that and take time off the clock because it was going to be impossible for us to come back. I donít know how to describe this game. Penn Wood played great basketball and took us out of a lot of things we wanted to do."
The loss ruined a strong game for Penn Woodís Micah Covert, who finished with 14 points, and Micah Wilson, who added 12 points. Freeman collected 10 points and seven rebounds.
"You canít really put this game into words," Washington said. "Our defense was crazy in the fourth quarter. We went with two different presses and they both look the same Coach stressed to us no matter how much we are down, as long as there is time on the clock, we have a chance."
In other Del Val action:
Chester 60, Harriton 49
Shakiyl Reid led the Clippers (11-5, 4-0) with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Russell Johnson added 12 points and 10 rebounds and All-Delco Darrin Govens scored 12 points.
Interboro 55, Chichester 42
Evan Tozer scored 16 points and Tim White scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half to lead the Bucs (10-6, 1-3) to the win.
Rob Woods paced the Eagles with 20 points.
Academy Park 67, Sun Valley 47
Mike Brown scored 19 points and Roger Thomas added 16 as the Knights (8-10, 2-2) used a big second-half in which they outscored the Vanguards, 47-24 to get the win.
Phil Cresta led Sun Valley with 13 points.
©The Daily Times 2006