by Mike McLeod
Friday the 13th proved to be a lucky day for Germantown Academy as they rolled past Solebury School, 73-41, in the first round of the PAISAA Tournament.
Coach Jim Fenerty and his Patriots used two dominating quarters and big nights from some players not named Tim Guers to overpower the Solebury Spartans.
The 4th-seeded Patriots (22-5, 9-1) jumped out to a big lead in the first behind their powerful offense, going up 20-9 before the 13th seeded Spartans (12-10) could even get their feet wet. The Patriots kept the foot on the pedal, going into the half at 35-20. Their offense exploded again in the third, essentially putting away the Spartans for good with a 28-point quarter that kept comeback chances slim for the fourth and solidified the team’s eighth straight league/playoff win.
Although they might need a bigger night from him moving forward, the Patriots didn’t need the 18.4 points-per-game Tim Guers has averaged in league play on Friday, as he added only seven points to the blowout. Instead they were paced by big nights from their auxiliary scorers, who have been complementing Guers in GA’s powerful offense all year.
Sam Lindgren led the team with what may have been his best game of the season. The senior tied for the team-high with 18 points on the night, and pulled down an impressive 12 rebounds for the double-double. Junior Devon Goodman also put in one of his best efforts of 2014-2015, tying Lindgren’s 18 points and adding 7 assists. Coupling his scoring and passing abilities, Goodman was able to keep the Spartans honest. Solebury had two choices – they could let Goodman shoot, or focus on him and leave his teammates open, where he found them all night. One of the players he found was sophomore Kyle McCloskey, who has come on strong offensively lately, adding 12 on Friday.
The next challenge for the Patriots comes Tuesday when they host 5th seeded Phelps School in the PAISAA quarterfinals.
Germantown Friends suffers disappointing week
Going into last week, Shawn Werdt and his Tigers had a chance to put a cherry on top of this year’s magical run. After going 10-12 last year (4-5 in conference), the team went 21-4 (7-3) and had a chance to take the Friends School League title from defending champ, Westtown. It wasn’t meant to be for the second-year coach and his squad as they were overmatched by the Moose and bounced out of the PAISAA tournament a day later.
Friday the 13th wasn’t as lucky for the Tigers as it was for Germantown Academy, drawing a talented — as many as four players may make the jump to division I basketball — and big Westtown team in the Friends League championship game. Although they faced a powerhouse whose point guard stood taller than their center, the Tigers kept the game competitive, falling 52-44.
After falling behind 28-13 in the third, the Tigers went on a run to bring themselves within 10, where they stayed for the remainder of the game.
Continuing the trend from the regular season, Ray Leon led his team with 16 points off of a 6 for 10 night from the field. He tied for the team lead of five rebounds with center Andrew Aldridge, who added 10 points of his own.
The next afternoon, Werdt had to rally his team for a first round PAISAA tournament game against Haverford School. Although it was a new day, the result was the same, with the 9th seeded Tigers falling to the 8th seed, 55-48.
Leon led the team on offense again, posting a 24 point night to cap off his strong season. He once again tied Aldridge for the team lead in rebounds, this time with six. Aldridge was the only other Tiger to break into double digits, posting 15 points of his own.
It may not have been exactly how the team wanted to end the year, but if the trend continues, coach Werdt and his team may be celebrating well into February next year.
La Salle moves on in defensive struggle
Scoring was at a premium on Friday between La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep, as the teams only combined for 70 points in a game that was the Explorers come out on top, 37-33.
The 4-5 matchup is usually the most competitive game in the first round of any tournament, but history told us that this game would be a defensive struggle before the two teams even showed up. In Catholic League playoff history, nine games have had a combined point total of 71 or fewer. Three of those games were between La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep. The kicker? All three were contested since 2009. The only reason this result was surprising was the 79-74, triple-overtime thriller the teams had played the week before.
As it has all season, La Salle’s starting five of all seniors was enough to overtake the Hawks. Dave Krmpotich tied for the Explorers team lead with 11 points on the night, but it was his late game free throws that made the difference. He made two trips to the line with just seconds left in the game; the first was to break a 33-33 tie, and the second was to extend the lead and put away the Hawks after intercepting a desperation pass.
Shawn Witherspoon added 11 and was as consistent a force as a player could be in a game where the teams combined to go 25-70 from the field.
La Salle will hope to get some more offense going this week in the semifinal round of the Catholic League playoffs.