When you get a five-point play, it’s your night.
On Tuesday at Lower Moreland after making the first free throw, the New Hope-Solebury Lions grabbed the offensive board from a missed free throw and drew another foul.
Again, New Hope made the front shot and grabbed the board off of the miss. Kyle McLaughlin kicked it out to Mike Borys for a three.
“It’s huge. Any hustle play motivates everyone on the team,” noted co-captain Christian Keating. “Everyone on the bench starts clapping. They’re so important to the success of the team.”
The five-point play highlighted New Hope’’s 11-0 run to open the third quarter in its 61-53 win over Lower Moreland. New Hope coach Rick Fedele felt it was the best second and third quarters the Lions played all season: New Hope outscored Lower Moreland 34-13 in those 16 minutes.
During the first quarter “we were very tentative on our perimeter shooting,” Fedele explained. “For whatever reason. Our focus in practice was getting the ball into the post. The last time in the second half, when they went zone on us, we struggled to score. But we went to the post early. Phil (Weinseimer) made a couple of buckets and it opened the perimeter shot up a little more.”
Justin Sandler’s 3-pointer, Lower Moreland’s third of the first quarter, capped an 11-2 Lower Moreland run and gave the hosts an 11-6 lead midway through the first. Lower Moreland led 13-7 after one.
McLaughlin opened the second by assisting on Alex Walinski’s three and hitting a jumper to cut the lead to 13-12; Lower Moreland was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the second.
“It was effort. We came out flat in the first quarter,” Keating noted, “and we knew what we needed to do on D. We came out and did it.”
Walinski’s four-point play gave New Hope a 20-18 lead and the visitors never trailed again.
“The second quarter was big for us,” McLaughlin offered. “Even though we were down in the first, we kept telling each other that everything was all right. We knew if we stuck to our game plan that everything would work out for us. We hit shots. We moved the ball more in the second quarter.”
New Hope led 41-26 after three and as much as 46-26 in the fourth. Lower Moreland sank seven fourth-quarter threes to make a late run.
“Our coaches kept telling us to slow down and play our game,” Walinski said. “We don’t need to take a lot of quick shots because then we play into their hands. We kept reminding each other to take our time because we knew we could beat them in a half-court game. It worked.”
Walinski’s 20 and McLaughlin’s 14 led New Hope scorers. Borys scored nine. Phil Weinseimer added eight points and six rebounds. Keating’s eight rebounds paced New Hope.
Keating and Weinseimer are the threats in the paint. Borys and Walinski are the snipers. But the emergence of point guard McLaughlin gives Fedele another weapon. “I’m trying to do what Coach is telling me to do,” McLaughlin explained. “To set us up on the offense and take the opportunities that we’re given. My main goal is to be a mini-coach for Coach and be his eyes on the court.”
The Lions (11-9, 8-4 BAL) were 6-6 after a Jan. 8 loss to CB East. They rattled off a four-game win streak but entered Lower Moreland on a three-game losing streak.
Lower Moreland (8-13, 6-8 BAL) has lost eight of its last 10 conference games. One of those losses was a 56-52 defeat at New Hope on Jan. 21. Borys, McLaughlin and Walinski all scored 15.
“We came in focused knowing how our last couple of games have gone,” Walinski stated. “The first quarter didn’t turn out the best but when we came to the bench we were calm and had one goal in mind. We accomplished it.”
New Hope-Solebury was ranked third behind Notre Dame Green Pond in the District One/11 3A sub-regional. The two Feb. 26 semifinal winners advance to states; a 2 seed would give New Hope a home game. New Hope, who reached the state Elite Eight last winter, closes the regular season with winnable games against Valley Forge Military and Collegium Charter.