The New Hope-Solebury Lions entered Monday’s BAL game at MaST Charter just 48 hours removed from an overtime victory against archrival Holy Ghost Prep. A flat start wasn’t surprising.
The Lions never had a first quarter lead against MaST (0-5, 0-3 Bicentennial). The period ended knotted at 12. But New Hope clicked into gear. The Lion defense stiffened – allowing just 13 points over the next two quarters – while the offense poured on points. New Hope led 50-25 through three and cruised to a 69-38 win.
“I feel like our defensive pressure got to them and our aggressive ball movement opened opportunities for us to attack the basket or get an open jump shot,” said Michael Borys, whose 16 points led all scorers.
When Borys drained his third three of the game 25 ticks into the second quarter, the Lions finally had a lead. “Our coach got on us because we knew we were better than what we had been playing,” explained Alex Walinski. “We had to go play like New Hope-Solebury.”
New Hope succeeds “against zone defenses. We always seem to find the open spots,” Borys continued. “I found the open spots and guys got me the ball at the perfect time.”
Borys converted a long Walinski outlet pass to up the lead to 17-12. “It’s fun running this offense. You get a lot of good looks and a lot of open looks down low. We can kick it out and get some open shots. It keeps the defense moving. They’re eventually going to slack and we’ll get an open shot,” commented Walinski, who had 15 points and seven assists.
Phil Weinseimer’s putback made it 21-15. A MaST three cut the lead to 26-20 with 2:00 left. Kyle McLaughlin answered with a 3-point play and then a three to put the Lions up 34-21 at halftime.
McLaughlin scored 15 while adding seven rebounds and five assists. “One of the big things you look for in a point guard is a guy who thinks like a coach on the floor,” offered New Hope coach Rick Fedele. “(Kyle) has done a great job. Every game he’s played, he has had to play the number one point guard on each team. He works his tail off.”
Christian Keating’s Weinseimer-assisted jumper opened the half. Borys added a 3-point play off of a steal. When McLaughlin sank two run outs in quick succession, the Lions were up 45-25 late in the third and the game’s outcome was not in doubt.
Four Lion starters had at least two steals including Weinseimer, whose appearance on the basketball court is welcome news to New Hope fans. A standout quarterback, Weinseimer was lost for the football season early in New Hope’s gridiron opener after an ugly lower body injury.
“I took everything slow. I took extra precautions like making sure to wear a brace,” Weinseimer said. “I’m at full strength and hopefully I’ll improve during the season. It was easy to focus on basketball and get in the gym, even if it wasn’t full sprinting. I was making sure to shoot and get in shape.”
The 4-1 Lions improved to 3-0 in the Bicentennial. Saturday’s 50-48 thriller against Holy Ghost already gives New Hope a signature win. “Alex Walinski put the team on his back and sent us into overtime,” Weinseimer described. “At that point, we had the momentum, played team basketball and were able to come out on top.”
Fedele, who took the Lions to the PIAA quarterfinals last season, likes the team’s chemistry. “They are buying in to everything that we’re teaching them. They’ve worked hard,” he explained. “Their staple is their defense. They’re learning to play offense because they have a lot of weapons. They did a great job against Holy Ghost the other night in reigning it in and controlling the game.”
New Hope hosts Dock Mennonite on Friday before starting three straight games against SOL competition.