(Lansdale PA) North Penn rained down accurate 3’s on Downingtown West in the third period and that spell of good shooting provided the margin that sparked the Knights to a 47-38 win in the Chris Smith Holiday Tournament championship game on Wednesday night.
Downingtown West led 17-12 at the half with little offense by either team in evidence. Those on hand waited for the stars of the opening round games (Mike Milito – 18 points against Engineering and Science) and/or (Matthew Possanza – 19 points versus Methacton) to put some points on the board. Didn’t happen. Mike ended up with eight points on off-shooting stats while Matthew had very few touches thanks to the Whippet know-where-he-is defense.
What went on in the North Penn locker room at halftime? Those meager twelve points that North Penn took sixteen minutes to get in the first half surely were discussed. Anyhow, it took the Knights only five minutes to get their second batch of twelve points in the decisive third quarter.
Junior Conner Silhanek was the early catalyst with a couple of baskets (one assisted by Wes Brooks) and two free throws to narrow the Downingtown West advantage to 19-18 with 4 ½ minutes to go in period three.
After that was when the rain of 3’s kicked in for North Penn. They tallied 15 points in their next five possessions including one three (by Matthew Possanza) the old-fashioned way. Matthew also had a regular three as did TJ Gill. The game’s top scorer (sophomore Wes Brooks) chipped in two in a row.
By the time the quarter ended, Downingtown West was on the wrong end of a 33-23 score and never recovered.
In the midst of the Knight scoring run was a very crucial, if not controversial play. The Whippets were just down two (21-19) and Mike Milito was breaking away. From where I was sitting, it was clear that someone had grabbed his shirt causing the ball to get away from him. No whistle and a quick pass off the steal to the right corner gave Wes Brooks an open look at a three which he buried to boost the lead to five points. If a foul is called on the shirt grab, that play doesn’t happen.
In the final frame a couple of Knight turnovers and a run of successful Whippet free throws made things interesting at 39-34 with 2:42 to go. But with a chance to get even closer, the visitors had a possession with three missed shots before a turnover. The Knights made eight of ten free throws the rest of the way to seal the championship.
Wes Brooks (15 points) and TJ Gill (9 points) paced North Penn while Idris Jones (13 points including six in the first period) and Mike Milito (8 points) led Downingtown West.
The guard play of North Penn was the difference maker. The Whippets played a very physical man-to-man defense and yet North Penn had only eleven turnovers.
North Penn got away with a zone defense because Downingtown West took very few three’s and didn’t make one until the last minute – Ian Jones.
Best defender was the Whippets’ Terrell Brice. However, late in the game, when it came time to intentionally foul, he drew his fifth by planting 5’9” Wes Brooks out of bounds with a two-hander. No need for that but his defensive play other than that was a coach’s delight.
Matthew Possanza, Wes Brooks, Mike Milito, and Idris Jones were chosen for the All-Tourney team.
(All stats are unofficial.)