Solebury celebrates its accomplishments in style.
Last Wednesday, Javon Brewster sank two free throws with 5.4 seconds left to give the host Spartans a 77-75 PJAA win over Girard College. Solebury trailed by 12 at halftime on the night it honored Troy McGregor as the newest 1,000-point Spartan.
“That was absolutely a wild game,” Brewster said. “We had a slow start but in the second half we all played with all of our hearts, put everything behind us from the first half and played hard defense.”
“We said before the game that it’s better to hurt and win then to not hurt and lose,” Solebury coach Cleve Christie stated. “Nine times out of 10, if you give it everything you’ve got, you’re going to win. If not, you’ll still feel good about yourself. In the second half, we gave it everything we had.”
Girard opened a 6-0 lead. McGregor and Thierry Lokrou retorted with threes to help build an 11-8 Solebury advantage. Solebury extended its margin to 25-18 on David Zaketa’s three.
And then the Spartans went ice-cold, getting only one floor basket in the first six minutes of the second quarter. There was no answer for red-hot shooting Mike Anderson, whose 27 first half points enabled Girard to lead 45-33 at halftime.
McGregor scored the second half’s first four points and the Spartans found success in the paint. Girard hit a buzzer-beating three to lead 59-51 at quarter’s end, but Solebury chipped away. Two Charlie Franklin free throws with 4:18 left cut the lead to 65-62.
“We waited for the shot to come to us. In the first half, I was forcing things up,” shared Franklin, who was a point and a rebound away from a double-double. “We let the buckets come through the flow of the game.”
McGregor, who led Solebury with 30 points and seven assists, tied it at 71 with 39 seconds left after converting his own rebound from a missed three. Girard sank 12 of 15 free throws, but a miss with 17 seconds left and the score tied 75-all set up Brewster’s heroics.
“They got up because we couldn’t stay in front of our man but we picked up quickly in the second half,” Lokrou described. “We stayed in front, came over to help, were strong on the boards and pushed for open shots.”
Girard’s Anderson scored just 10 points after halftime. “Jalen (Cline) did an excellent job on Anderson in the second half,” Christie emphasized. “Jalen is very athletic and long. (Anderson) had to work for everything he had.”
Brewster scored 12 and dished out five assists. Fellow sophomore Lokrou grabbed eight rebounds and scored 17 points.
McGregor hit the 1,000-point milestone on Dec. 14 at the Peddie School Tournament. “I’m the older guy on the team now,” McGregor noted. “I’m kind of the guy giving advice. It’s more of a leadership role and I don’t mind taking it because I’ll do what we have to do to win.”
“When Troy has the ball in his hands, good things happen. If he doesn’t make a basket, then he is making the right pass and the right decision,” Christie praised. “He leads by example. He is always on time. He is the last one to leave. He is that kind of kid.
McGregor speculated on his maturation as a four-year starter. “I have more confidence in myself. I know what I can bring to the table. My jump shot got better,” he said. “My leadership abilities on the court: talking to my team and playing better defense all (improved).”
Girard marked Solebury’s first action since Dec. 27, and the Spartans needed that rest for their hectic January. Solebury plays six games between Girard and this Saturday’s home contest with Academy of the New Church.
Solebury topped South Hunterdon 68-53 last Thursday; Jupiter Shi scored a season-high 10 points. “Since the beginning of the year, we have worked on our hustle plays, with people taking charges. That’s improved. We’re a pretty young team with three sophomores in our starting lineup,” Franklin reminded. “We’re finding out how to play together and what it takes to win.”
Solebury entered press time 6-9 (4-2 PJAA). McGregor entered with over 1,200 career points.
In Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit,” Mr. McGregor tries to keep the wily Peter from damaging his garden. Last Wednesday showed how difficult it can be for PJAA coaches to keep Solebury’s wily and rabbit-quick Mr. McGregor from doing damage.