With roughly a month left in the regular season, a game with serious implications in early January could be called a stretch.
Yet, both Pennridge and host Central Bucks South understood there would be plenty at stake when they met in a playoff-intensive atmosphere in which the visiting Rams pulled out a 53-49 victory Jan. 4.
Pennridge (9-2, 2-1), which had just captured the Boyertown tournament a few days earlier, snapped CB South’s seven-game winning streak and also moved into a virtual tie with the Titans (7-3, 3-1) in the Suburban One League’s Continental Division.
Winning its fifth straight, Pennridge pulled even with CB South and North Penn, all of whom had one loss entering Tuesday night’s play.
“We knew it would be a physical game,” said Pennridge head coach Dean Behrens. “We knew this was a big game because if they win, they would have gotten to 4-0. Now, we have equal losses.
“There are about five teams who can win this league. It was fun and good basketball.”
CB South cut into an 11-point deficit behind the play of senior center Ian McCaw, who muscled his way down low all night, as he rallied the Titans with 12 of team-high 20 points in the final quarter. The 6-foot-6 center also pulled down 12 rebounds and sank 10 of his points from the foul line.
“The league games are always physical, and I love playing Pennridge,” said McCaw. “They got the ball down low more in the second half. But we have played good defense all year long and it helped us make a run late in the game.”
Sean Yoder, a senior and Navy recruit, scored 17 of his game-high 25 points for the Rams after halftime.
He scored seven of his team’s points during a 15-7 run in which the Rams built a 43-32 advantage with 4:37 left in the game. Yoder capped his night when he swished the Rams’ final three points from the foul line in the closing 16 seconds.
Both teams started slow and looked tight as the Rams held a slim 19-18 margin at halftime.
“We knew coming in here that this was a huge game,” said Yoder, who also grabbed eight rebounds. “We just had to play with a lot of energy and executed pretty well overall. We came out slow, but we eventually got things going.
“We got some jump hooks in the third quarter to get it going then pound it inside. That was big.”
Pennridge senior center Jon Post, who was held to four points and fouled out with 5:45 left in the third, realized the importance of the contest.
“I would rather have that type of game,” said Post, who grabbed nine rebounds.
“This was huge because if we win out, the division is ours. We can control our own destiny.”
The Rams also received a key contribution from junior forward Trent Fisher, whose 11 points helped the Rams maintain their advantage in the second and third quarters with his inside play. Fisher also provided a presence when Post fouled out.
“Once we started shooting down by our side, we seem to be knocking down more shots,” said Fisher, who also grabbed nine rebounds. “We all knew this was a big game that we needed to win.”
“He really came through for us,” said Behrens about Fisher. “He only has 11 games of varsity experience and he was playing well against someone who had three years of varsity experience (McCaw).
“We did a good job at getting the ball to Post and then into Fisher. I knew they were going to make a run at us.”
CB South head coach Jason Campbell saw Fisher as a game changer and figured his club still had some late-game heroics. Tommy Kuypers found his touch in the second half, scoring 11 of his 13 points after halftime.
“Yoder did a great job and we managed to hold Post under 10 (points),” said Campbell. “But the difference was Fisher. We had a little lull in third and early in the fourth quarter. But Ian (McCaw) brought the fire all game and gave us second chances that kept us close.”