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Boys basketball: CB West avenges early season loss to East


Central Bucks West may have lost to crosstown rival CB East in an early season matchup, but the Bucks were not going to lose to the Patriots twice in the same season.

In the rematch Jan. 18 on its home court, West got out to a seven-point lead after the first quarter and never trailed on its way to a 59-49 triumph over visiting CB East, keeping the Bucks’ hopes of a postseason berth alive.

“(Coach Adam) Sherman and (assistant coach Jason) Matusek – they have a formula and we know it works,” said CB West junior guard Mika Munari, who notched nine of his team’s 14 points in the opening quarter.

“At the end of the (first) game (with East), a lot of things went their way but we knew we just had to go in and play West basketball – be real stingy on defense. That was a big thing the last game; we weren’t playing great defense the whole time.

“We knew we had to play a full four quarters of defense. Offense would take care of itself – just get the right shots, familiar shots that we know we could get.”

After falling to the Patriots 61-58 in an overtime thriller in the third game of the season, the Bucks won by 10 this time around, anchored by Munari (17 points) and senior Jack Mulhearn, who led the home team with 18 points.

Munari hit four shots from the floor in the initial frame including a 3-pointer, helping West off to a 14-7 edge after one period. Classmate Jack Neri opened the second quarter with a driving layup, Munari followed with a steal and a fast-break bucket and the Bucks never looked back.

With a minute left in regulation, East tightened a gap that reached as many as 12 points to four but West closed the game out from the foul line with Mulhearn making 6-of-7 free throws and classmate John Murnen hitting three of his last four foul shots.

In the first East-West matchup, Patriots senior Ben Markowitz exploded for 17 points including nine in the final two minutes of regulation to help send the skirmish to an extra session. In the final moments of the fourth quarter of that game, Markowitz canned a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which he turned into a four-point play to help send the first duel to overtime.

This time around, the Bucks held the CB East co-captain to a single trey in the second quarter.

“He made some good shots the last time and this time, that was the difference,” explained Mulhearn. “We were keying on him at the end – making sure he didn’t get those open threes.”

Leading 14-7 after a quarter, West canned its first three shots of the second period including a pair of field goals by Mulhearn, the second of which went for three and a put-back basket by junior Danny Miller. The 3-pointer by Mulhearn put the Bucks up 21-10 with 5:06 still to play in the first half.

A pair of driving layups by CB East senior Leo Masterson and sophomore Joe Jackman closed the Pats’ deficit to seven points with two minutes left in the second quarter but a 3-pointer by CB West senior Connor Briece and a layup by Miller stretched the Bucks’ lead to a dozen (40-28) after three periods.

CB East cut the West lead to single digits several times in a wild fourth quarter of action that saw the sides combine for 40 points. Jack Hamilton, a 6-7 sophomore for the Patriots, stepped up with nine points in the final frame including a driving layup he made after a steal that cut the gap to five (48-43) with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

“He’s gotten a lot better, through practice, getting used to the system,” said Markowitz, of Hamilton. “He’s getting some minutes, now that he’s comfortable.

“He gives us a lot of extra help and protecting on defense; he blocked a dunk down the other end in the second half.

“He gives us a lot of energy off the bench.”

Mulhearn hit four straight foul shots to extend the Bucks’ lead to nine with two minutes left and though East received 3-pointers from Masterson, Jackman and Hamilton, the Patriots never did get over that hill.

“They got us spread out at the end of the game,” explained Markowitz. “We had to cover the whole perimeter. Once we got blown by, they got some easy layups and time got away from us.”

Now at 9-5 overall, the Patriots are ranked 11th among their District 1 Class 6A rivals, though they’ve dropped three straight including a two-point loss to Wissahickon and a six-point loss to league rival Pennridge.

West is 7-8 overall after stopping a two-game skid that saw the Bucks fall by three to league leader CB South and by 12 to PAC-10 rival Methacton. Coming off a year in which they made it to the District 1 Class 6A semifinals and the state quarterfinals, the Bucks are currently ranked 21st in a field that takes 24 teams to the postseason.

Both teams are 3-4 and in the middle of the pack in the SOL Continental Conference.

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