Two weeks ago, Central Bucks West’s boys basketball team was at the crossroads.
The Bucks had a 7-11 record and their chances at making the PIAA District One Class 6A tournament were getting slim.
Four weeks later, the Bucks’ fate changed, and they reached a goal.
The Bucks (11-11) clinched their postseason berth win an impressive second-half run that lead to a 64-48 home victory over Central Bucks South in the Bucks’ final regular season game Feb. 8.
With the win, CB West, the 21st seed in the tournament, will travel to 12th-seeded Central Bucks East to open the playoffs Friday night.
“We’re playing better now than we were,” said Bucks head coach Adam Sherman. “We had hit a little rut. We weren’t doing the things we needed to weather the storm. We weren’t defending like we were capable of doing.
“We have been playing much better defensively and we did a solid job against CB South.”
Senior guard Jack Mulhearn led the Bucks with a game-high 27 points (11-for-11 from free throw line) and also grabbed 12 rebounds for his second-consecutive double-double.
“Mulhearn has done a lot for us all season,” added Sherman. “He did a great job defensively on their leading scorer (Alex Dietz, 16 points). For a guy who is 5-10, it’s pretty impressive to get back-to-back double-doubles.”
Mulhearn knew he and his teammates had to play up to their capabilities.
“We weren’t playing as good as we could have,” said Mulhearn. “We all knew we had to step it up and play better in our last four games.”
Both teams exchanged baskets in the opening half, and CB South owned a slim 26-23 advantage at halftime.
But CB West turned up its intensity in the third quarter, outscoring CB South, 14-10 in the stanza, and it went on to explode for a 27-point fourth quarter. The Bucks held the Titans to 22 points in the second half.
Junior Jack Neri added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks.
“We weren’t in sync offensively in the first half,” said Sherman. “We made some adjustments and we put ourselves in a better position in the second half.”
Sherman has been impressed with the constant contributions from seniors Connor Briece, John Murnen and Nathan Ocampo as well as juniors Mika Munari and Owen Haney. Senior Reed Zerweck also has been instrumental after he returned from a bout with tonsillitis.
“Mulhearn, Munari and Neri have been consistent for us all season,” said Sherman. “Our seniors have done a great job all season. Having Zerweck out really hurt us.
“Owen Haney lately has given us some good quality minutes after he didn’t play a lot of minutes earlier this season.”
Sherman sees a good chemistry continuously evolving with his team, especially at the right time.
“These kids really support and believe in each other,” he said. “We have a good rotation right now, and we are playing better.
“This is the time of the year when you want to start playing your best basketball.”