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Boys basketball: Plumstead erupts in second half, gets “W”


Is it a new era at Plumstead Christian?

The Panthers held a tight 25-24 halftime lead Monday night against visiting Coventry Christian. The Eagles scored the last four points of the second quarter and seemed to carry momentum into the locker room.

But the young Panthers exploded after halftime, starting the third period with an 8-0 run en route to a convincing 61-46 win. Zachary Knudsen and Nick Phillipps sandwiched 3-point plays around Jackson Mott’s reverse layup to produce the run.

“At halftime, we talked about how this could be the start of a new era of Plumstead basketball,” relayed Panthers coach John Elton. “I said, ‘Claim this second half and make this yours.’ They played really well tonight. They came out of the second half on fire and played incredible defense.”

“We’re a young team and this will help boost our confidence. We didn’t have many turnovers, which had been a problem for us,” added Phillipps, whose 26 points led all scorers.

“We played well in the first half and I think the energy carried over into the second half,” shared Mott. “We were working the ball really well and getting shots for everybody. We played good defense and locked up on their best players.”

The Panthers shut out Coventry’s Jake Shirey in the third quarter after Shirey went off for 13 points in the first half.

“Zach had three fouls so we had to put Nick on him,” explained Elton. “Zach is our best perimeter defender but Nick did a fabulous job. We tried to keep Zach from fouling out and it worked out.”

Coventry whittled Plumstead’s lead down to 38-34 at third quarter’s end, but a Phillipps layup, Matt Sheil’s jumper and Phillipps’ 3-ball blew Plumstead’s margin open to 45-34 with 6:20 remaining. Phillipps nailed two threes in the second quarter and was effective inside in the second half.

“It depends how the defender is playing me,” Phillipps explained. “If they give me space, I’ll shoot but if they are overplaying me, I’ll do a move and get inside. A good player has a variety of styles. If they just shoot, they are easy to guard. If they can do multiple things, it’s a whole different player.”

Mott (16 rebounds, 15 points) and Phillipps (11 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles while Ryan Jacobs added seven points. Mott tallied 11 of his points in the first half. “I’m working on taking it to the hoop more and beating my defender,” said Mott, who is learning the forward position. “It’s helping my game.”

Elton’s patience and positivity are a good match for a Plumstead team whose seven-man rotation consists of all freshmen and sophomores.

“We build that chemistry and play better together,” said Knudsen, who scored nine points and dished out five assists. “We have each other’s back and can count on each other to do the right thing.”

Graduation took a fierce toll on Plumstead. In addition to losing their second all-time leading scorer in Carson Curry, PCS graduated versatile big Drew Grow, who now gets meaningful minutes with the University of Valley Forge.

What the Panthers lack in experience, they make up for in energy and attitude. “I love how we are really close and get along. When we don’t play all seniors and juniors,” Knudsen feels, “we can play really well.”

“The biggest thing for us is composure and slowing the game down,” Elton said. “Right now, they’re like a bunch of wild mustangs running at 90 MPH. They’re learning how to control themselves, play with tempo and play smarter.”

Plumstead (2-7) had an immediate turnaround, falling to Jenkintown on Tuesday. While the team is still seeking its first Bicentennial win, Plumstead’s belief and buy-in is there.

“We have a lot of young guys who put a lot of work in. It’s nice to get a reward,” Elton concluded on Monday.

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