Thursday, February 28, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: Upper Moreland sets down Octorara

Upper Moreland made a good argument toward the end of season and in the quarterfinals that it is much better than its 12-11 record suggests. The Bears made it a fact in the semifinals.

Led by Matt Kohn’s 28 points, Upper Moreland downed Cinderella eighth-seed Octorara 60-55. The Bears never flinched as the Braves constantly brought the game to within five, using clutch shooting, rebounding and defense to propel themselves into the district final at Villanova.

“It’s a great feeling,” Kohn said. “I think we have the upper edge [in the final] because we are playing really good basketball right now. It’s all about experience; we were in this tournament last year and we’ve been in a lot of close games this year. We did a good job tonight.”

Octorara had just come off upsetting No.1 seeded Holy Ghost Prep and were high on confidence, while the No. 4 Upper Moreland entered the semis with a 20-point win over Pottstown in the quarterfinals under its belt. It was interesting to see whether or not the Braves would keep rolling or have a big-win hangover, but coach Brian Corrado and the Bears could not have cared less either way.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Mount St. Joseph battles past Upper Dublin

Montgomery Media / BOB RAINES Mount St. Joseph's Alex Louin pops out of the rush of fans flashing the number one sign after the Magic defeated Upper Dublin Wednesday in District One Class AAAA playoff action.
In the first quarter, it came from outside the arc. In the second, it was from the free throw line. And when it came down to the final stretch, it was on the defensive end of the floor. No matter what, Mount St. Joseph wasn’t going to allow Upper Dublin to continue its win streak any longer.

Between the three-point shooting of freshman Libby Tacka and the free throw shooting of junior Alex Louin and senior Meg Geatens, the Magic came out on fire against Upper Dublin, building an early lead in what eventually led to a 48-36 win over the Lady Cardinals in a District One Class AAAA semifinal at Norristown High School.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Jenkintown topples Sacred Heart in semifinals

Montgomery Media / SCOTT ROMAN Jenkintown’s Madison Kremp battles for the ball with Sacred Heart's Alanna Tucker during Wednesday's District One Class A semifinal action.
Coaches preach all the time about working together as a team. It doesn’t happen on game day all that often, but when it does it leaves the coach just shaking his head.

Jim Romano was all smiles Wednesday night. Without starting point guard Ruby Westkaemper available for the game, Jenkintown needed everyone to pitch in. And what they got was a 35-25 victory over Sacred Heart in the District One Class A semifinal at Cheltenham High.

“Everybody did what they had to do,” Romano said, almost gushing. “It was just a great game. Everybody was focused this week in practice and it worked out tonight for us.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Christopher Dock pulls away from Calvary Christian

Montgomery Media / BOB RAINES Christopher Dock's Landon Leinbach goes up for a shot past Calvary Christian's Joel Thibodeau during Wednesday's District One Class AA semifinal action.
A close game would be expected in a district semifinal game that featured two teams that split its regular season matchups. This was the case for the District One Class AA semifinal pitting the Bicentennial Athletic League champion Calvary Christian against the fourth-seeded Christopher Dock.

Until the game reached the 5:30 mark in the fourth quarter, that is.

Dock was holding on to a five-point lead it looked like the game was slipping away when Calvary’s Jon Boback hit a three-pointer and a chance to go to the line to make it a one-point game.

Prior the free throw Dock called timeout. After that the Pioneers slammed on the gas and pulled away from the Cougars ending the game on an 18-5 run to win 57-42 and secure a spot in District One Class AA championship game Saturday at Villanova.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Phil-Mont Christian falls to Girard College

After finishing with their best regular season record in nearly a decade, the Phil-Mont Christian girls’ basketball team had to watch as its season came to an end on Wednesday night.

The Lady Falcons trailed for nearly the entire contest and eventually lost to Girard College, 43-26, in a District One Class A semifinal at Cheltenham High School.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BOYS BASKETBALL: Chester pulls away from Abington

Montgomery Media / BOB RAINES Abington's Anthony Durham goes up for a shot against Chester's James Kirksey during Tuesday's District One Class AAAA semifinal at Temple University.
Abington’s boys’ basketball team has come a long way since the mid-point of the current season. Unfortunately, for the Ghosts, it wasn’t far enough to beat Chester.

Back in a holiday tournament on Dec. 27, the Ghosts fell to Chester by 36 points. And while the Ghosts weren’t able to come out victorious in their rematch with the state’s top-ranked team, the upset bid was still in play early in the third quarter.

Chester’s size and strength in the paint was too much for Abington to handle, as the Ghosts fell to the Clippers, 76-43, in a District One Class AAAA semifinal at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on Tuesday night.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Dry spell costs Lower Moreland against Villa Maria

Lower Moreland’s run to the district semifinals was a great one, but you can’t get shut out in a quarter and expect to move on, especially against a team like Villa Maria.

The Lady Lions’ run at a district title came to an end on Tuesday night when they fell to Villa Maria 51-28 in a District One Class AAA semifinal final game at Plymouth Whitemarsh. Although Lower Moreland started off the game on a 6-0 run, it went on a stretch of almost 15 minutes without scoring from the middle of the first quarter to a couple minutes into the third. The Lady Lions outscored the Hurricanes in the third period, but it was far too late.

“We are not deep enough to overcome that,” Lower Moreland coach Rich Becker said. “I think we were a little bit like a deer in headlights. We came out strong, but they pressured us and we got overwhelmed by their athleticism. Our lack of experience in this situation showed.”

SPRING TRAINING: Brown keeps showing positive signs

For Montgomery Media / ERIC HARTLINE Philadelphia Phillies rightfielder Domonic Brown during spring training workouts in Clearwater, Fla.
CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies don't have many position players with the potential to break through the ceiling of expectations these days.

It's hard to imagine Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins getting any better than they were in their primes, when they were competing for and at times winning MVP awards.

Carlos Ruiz had a career year last season, and with the veteran catcher missing the first 25 games due to a suspension, it's tough to see that surpassed.

Ben Revere is young, but there is only so much a speedy slap-hitter can do for a team.

Phillies notes

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Alex Rodriguez isn't in Florida, choosing to spend his time rehabilitating from hip surgery in New York, where he can stay a safe distance away from the Biogenesis scandal that continues to keep the onus of performance-enhancing drugs on the three-time American League Most Valuable Player.

However, according to Michael Young, if A-Rod were in Clearwater with the Yankees Tuesday, his pregame preparation would have involved a microwave and refrigerator.

"He used to put his glove in the microwave before every game," said Young, who was Rodriguez's teammate in Texas for three seasons. "He'd put it in the microwave, then in the freezer. I never really understood that one. It was wild. I never knew why."

BOYS BASKETBALL: Church Farm rolls over Phil-Mont Christian

Montgomery Media / SCOTT ROMAN Phil-Mont Christian's Zach Dolton gets past Church Farm School's Larry Cermak during Tuesday's District One Class A playoff game.
Church Farm School entered Tuesday’s district semifinal game as heavy favorites over Phil-Mont Christian. A line-up littered with players over six feet tall was only one visible reason why the Griffins were the number one seed in the tournament.

The Falcons were able to hang through much of the first half before bigger and more athletic Church Farm started to establish itself. With the game never in much doubt, Church Farm won 72-38, advancing to the District One Class A championship game.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: St. Basil's defense shuts down Pioneers

For Montgomery Media / MARK C. PSORAS Christopher Dock's Lauren Hunsberger has a ball knocked away by St. Basil defenders Kelly Mancini and Liz Napierkowski during Tuesday's District One Class AA playoff action.
Thanks to a strong regular season the St. Basil Academy girls basketball team was awarded the top seed in the District One Class AA playoffs. However the Panthers still felt like work needed to be done before they were going to acknowledge any accolades.

Taking down the defending district champ Christopher Dock was the first step, but the Pioneers did not plan to willingly hand over the title. If the fourth seed was relinquishing their title, it was going to go down kicking and screaming.

“This is a new venture for us,” Panthers coach Terry Mancini said. “This is new teams we are facing and the long layoff we had hurt us in the first half. Once we got our legs we showed what we were capable of.”

It did not take long for the Panthers to prove it was their championship to win or lose this season — their first as a Class AA club — and St. Basil’s fast start led to a 50-14 semifinal win at Wissahickon Tuesday night.

BASKETBALL: All-Suburban One American Conference

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Archbishop Wood falls to Cardinal O'Hara in PCL title game

Wood's Colleen Young goes for a shot past O'Hara's Libby Lannon. Montgomery Media photo by BOB RAINES
An above average offensive night could have won the game, but unfortunately for Archbishop Wood a combination of poor shooting and stout Cardinal O’Hara defense kept the Lady Vikings from claiming the Philadelphia Catholic League crown.

The Lady Vikings struggled to get into an offensive rhythm and it ended up sinking them in their 31-25 loss to O’Hara in the PCL Championship game at the Palestra. Both sides knew they were in for a defensive battle, as the Lady Lions won the first meeting 30-27 during the regular season. However, although the O’Hara defense was difficult to break, Wood missed way too many shots and the PCL title eluded it once again.

WRESTLING: Lower Moreland claims third straight District 1/12 title

Lower Moreland had won the District 1/12 Class AA title for the last two years, but those were expected in many ways. This year, however, due to injuries and rising talent in the district, nothing was certain and the Lions would just have to wrestling their hearts out and hope their best was good enough.

It turns out their best was more than sufficient.

The Lions used a late surge in the heavier weight classes to blow past second-place Bishop McDevitt and take the district crown for the third straight year. The Lions finished with three district champions, four second-place finishers and a third place finish. They will send eight wrestlers to regionals.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Mount St. Joseph rolls over Boyertown

Before the game, Mount St. Joseph coach John Miller told his players that the best game they won was the AACA Championship game against Villa Maria a few weeks back. Well, that changed with the Magic’s 62-24 win over Boyertown in the District One Class AAAA quarterfinals.

“We did not expect the score of this game to be what it was, I don’t think anyone in their right mind could have predicted that,” Mount coach John Miller said. “This was the best game we have played this season.”

When Mount needed it most, its stars rose to the occasion as Alex Louin, Adrienne Cellucci, Carly Monzo and Meg Geatens all ended the game in double figures. With great defense throughout and discipline with their passes, the Magic shook off a sub-par performance in the last round to make a huge statement in the quarterfinals.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Kohn powers Upper Moreland past Pottstown

Upper Moreland's Matt Kohn goes up for a shot against Pottstown. Montgomery Media photo--BOB RAINES
Matt Kohn realizes that at this point in the season, every game could be his last. So when the Upper Moreland senior came out firing and put up seven points and recorded a pair of steals in the first quarter of Saturday’s district playoff game, you knew he realized what was at stake.

The Bears’ starting point guard finished with a game-high 22 points in what was a 66-46 win over visiting Pottstown in a District One Class AAA quarterfinal in an afternoon affair at Upper Moreland High School.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Lower Moreland rallies past Sun Valley in OT

Montgomery Media / SCOTT ROMAN Lower Moreland’s Jessica Dranzik drives to the basket against Sun Valley’s Chelsea Jones and Katie Maloney during Saturday's District One Class AAA playoff game.
It’s not too often that a team wins a basketball game despite never leading at any point in regulation. Lower Moreland pulled off the abnormal victory 53-52 over Sun Valley in the District One Class AAA quarterfinal match up.

Sun Valley took a seven-point lead into halftime and kept the lead around that number for most of the second half. The Lower Moreland comeback was headed by guard Lesell Campbell who scored 11 of her team high 16 points in the fourth quarter, including three huge three-pointers down the stretch to send the game into overtime.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Jenkintown eases past Faith Christian into semifinals

Emma Dorshimer scored 15 points and Ruby Westkaemper and Madison Kremp added eight points each as Jenkintown advanced to the District One Class A semifinals with a 42-17 victory over Faith Christian Saturday.

The Lady Drakes jumped out to a 17-0 lead after one period and weren’t tested the rest of the way, limiting Faith to just three field goals in the game. Top-seeded Jenkintown will face Sacred Heart, a 54-34 winner over Calvary Christian, on Wednesday at Cheltenham at 7:30 p.m.

Monica Ervin led Faith with 12 points, including 10 of 16 from the foul line.

Faith Christian (17): Shive 1 1-2 3; Monica Ervin 1 10-16 12; Waltenbaugh 0 0-0 0; Barnes 1 0-1 2; Doelp 0 0-0 0; Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals: 3 11-19 17.
Jenkintown (42): E.Dillon 2 1-6 5; Owens 0 1-2 1; S.Dillon 1 0-2 2; Contoudis 0 0-2 0; Grossbard 0 1-2 1; Emma Dorshimer 7 1-2 15; Ruby Westkaemper 3 2-2 8; McSherry 0 0-0 0; Madison Kremp 4 0-0 8; Shenk 0 0-0 0; Ross 0 0-0 0; M.Dorshimer 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 6-18 42.

Faith Christian 0 6 6 5—17

Jenkintown 17 5 7 13—42

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Souderton battles past Abington

For Montgomery Media / MARK C. PSORAS Souderton's Allison Gallagher puts up a shot during Friday's District One Class AAAA elimination game against Abington.
The Souderton Area girls basketball team hosted Abington Friday night in the playback portion of the District One Class AAAA tournament. And by this stage of the season, teams typically know what you are all about. In order for the Indians get one game closer to a PIAA appearance, they knew the scoring of the Galloping Ghosts’ sensational sophomore Deja Rawls had to be contained.

“I think everybody knows the game plan against Abington,” Indians coach Lynn Carroll said. “We tried to limit Rawls as much as possible.”

Rawls never gave up on her quick first step and fancy spins to the hoop, but the Indians were equipped with fast guards and, motivated to keep their season alive, used a strong defensive effort to earn a 43-34 win.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Simmons leads Ghosts past Ridley into district semifinals

Montgomery Media / BOB RAINES Abington's Jordan Simmons lays up a shot past Ridley's Zain Shaw during Friday's District One Class AAAA playoff game.
Last February, Abington was defeated by Lower Merion in the district semifinals, preventing the Ghosts from having the chance to play in the final against Chester, the class of District One boys’ basketball for decades.

A year later, and the Ghosts have earned themselves the chance to see if they have what it takes to beat a team like Chester in the playoffs.

Thanks to a monster second half by senior Jordan Simmons, the Ghosts defeated Ridley 46-40 in a District One Class AAAA quarterfinal in front of more than 1,600 people at Abington High School on Friday night.

The win advances the Ghosts to the semifinals, where they will face the No. 1 seed, Chester, in a game Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Phil-Mont Christian battles past Friends Select

Sometimes you just don’t want to hear from anybody. Too much information is not always good.

Jarred Luckey was in that situation Friday night. Despite the noise of a rambunctious crowd in the final seconds of a big game, the Phil-Mont Christian senior could hear everyone’s advice as he walked the foul line.

“I’m hearning everyone and trying not to hear everyone – ‘follow through,’ everything like that,” Luckey said.

Luckey managed to shut it all out when he needed to and converted both free throws with seven seconds left to seal a 50-45 victory for Phil-Mont over Friends Select in the quarterfinals of the District One Class A playoffs.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Focused Lady Cardinals ease past Abington

While a packed Upper Dublin student section was mostly filled with fans dressed in Halloween costumes, the Upper Dublin girls’ basketball team was on the court looking like they have all season long.

Thanks to a fantastic first half that saw the Lady Cardinals go up by more than 20 points, Upper Dublin recorded its 23rd consecutive victory following a 58-28 win over Abington in a District One Class AAAA second round playoff at Upper Dublin High School on Monday.

Junior Regan Gallagher led the Lady Cardinals with 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals to advance the Lady Cardinals (23-1), who haven’t lost since the regular season opener, to the district quarterfinals where they will face North Penn.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Souderton falls short of North Penn

For Montgomery Media / MARK C. PSORAS North Penn's Erin Maher cuts between Souderton defenders for a basket during Wednesday's District One Class AAAA playoff action.
The foul spaces were left unoccupied and Souderton junior Bianca Picard had nothing in front of her except the basket. However she had the support of her teammates and community behind her no matter the outcome in the District One Class AAAA game against North Penn. The clock read 1.0 seconds and a technical foul gave the Indians two foul shots and possession. Picard made one free throw and the half court prayer that followed clanked the front of the rim, allowing the Maidens to move on with a 35-34 win.

The Maidens will continue their push for a District One crown on Saturday against Upper Dublin (55-28 winners over Abington on Wednesday) and secured their spot in the state playoffs for the third time in four years.

Heartbroken about the loss, yes, but it did not even come close to the heartache the Indians and the Souderton area were feeling on Wednesday. With the passing of assistant coach Tom Welch in the morning, who lost his battle with bone cancer, the girls remembered what really is important.

“What our team experienced today with the loss of coach Welch really puts things into perspective,” Indians coach Lynn Carroll said. “As much as we wanted to win this game in his memory, what the girls decided to do tonight was courageous and inspiring. I am just really proud of this team right now.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Mount holds off Central Bucks East

Because of the success Mount St. Joseph has had this season, it had to know that it would get every team’s best shot come the district tournament. Central Bucks East was a prime example of a Mount opponent that had upset on its mind.

The Magic fought past a tough defense and some second-half shooting woes to edge CB East 49-44 in the second round of the District One Class AAAA playoffs. Led by Alex Louin’s game-high 19 points, Mount escaped the 18th-seeded Lady Patriots despite being outscored in the second half. The only thing that separated these two teams in the end was Mount hitting enough free throws to fend off CB East, scoring their last seven points from the charity stripe.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: S-F defense shuts down Downingtown West

Shelby Mueller and Sammy Stipa claim Spring-Ford still has a lot to work on, to improve on.

Not exactly a scary thought, but sure close.

It may be hard to imagine the Rams playing their customary aggressive, all-over-the-court defense much better than they did in Wednesday night’s second round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs. Creating 30 turnovers, after all, can be downright frightening, for the opposition that is.

But it was that defense that helped overshadow a less-than-daunting effort at the other end of the court and guided the Rams to a convincing 52-31 victory over visiting Downingtown West.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Methacton falls to West Chester Rustin

Coming off of Tuesday night’s state playoff berth-clinching win for the boys’ team at Methacton, their girls headed into Wednseday’s game with similar expectations.

Unfortunately, the Methacton faithful went home with a different result. The Warriors dropped a heartbreaker to lower-seeded West Chester Rustin, 54-49.

SPRING TRAINING: Inciarte excited about opportunity

For Montgomery Media / ERIC HARTLINE Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Ender Inciarte during spring training workouts on Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla.
CLEARWATER, Fla. – When Ender Inciarte woke from a long morning of sleep in Venezuela one day early December, he saw 18 missed calls from his older brother and panicked.

"I was in winter ball, and we had to travel the whole night," Inciarte said. "So I was sleeping late, and he saw the news and started calling me.

"When I saw all the calls I was worried. I thought something had happened, but then he told me the news."

The news was that the 22-year-old outfielder had been selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft on the morning of the final day of baseball's Winter Meetings. It meant a new start and his first opportunity to show major-league coaches what he could do in camp.