Was it Matt Bortolotti’s number one highlight?
“One hundred percent the biggest shot of my career,” replied the Plumstead Christian guard.
The visiting Panthers trailed Calvary Christian by one with four seconds left in overtime on Jan. 22. “Carson (Curry) was having a great game and they doubled him,” Bortolotti described. “It left me open.”
Bortolotti banked a game winning three at the buzzer.
Unfortunately for Plumstead, it is hard to stay that emotionally high.
The Panthers battled Valley Forge Military Academy Friday night but couldn’t stop the sharpshooting Trojans. VFMA (6-9, 4-5 Bicentennial), in its best performance of the season, pulled away to win 59-44 in a game that was tied through three quarters.
“To be honest, nothing worked tonight on defense. We tried 3-2, we tried 2-1-2, we tried man,” observed Plumstead coach John Elton. “Their shooting percentage was probably 60 percent. We knew about No. 3 (Rye Ahronson) and No. 22 (Matt Daulerio), their two best players. They hurt us, but the whole roster hurt us. Defense was the Achilles’ heel tonight.”
Ahronson drained his fourth three with 4:55 left in the first half, putting the Trojans up 22-13.
Plumstead’s Curry responded, turning a steal into a layup and adding a putback. Curry then dove into the stands and hurled a loose ball to teammate Josh Parry, who turned the possession into another Curry bucket. Curry’s three knotted the game at 22. When VFMA responded with a three, Parry re-tied it at 25 on a three-point play.
“I’m new to the school,” said Parry, who scored eight and grabbed three rebounds. “As a sixth man, I try to bring energy in the middle on defense, energy on rebounds and put something back up.”
VFMA rebuilt a 40-33 lead; Plumstead got the ball back on a Trojan travel call and took advantage. Parry cut the lead to 40-38 on two post buckets and a free throw. Curry fed Drew Grow for a long jumper.
Daulerio answered, but Plumstead’s Danny Loving re-tied the game at 42 on two free throws. Parry’s block ended the quarter.
VFMA hit all seven free throw attempts in a dominating fourth quarter.
Plumstead grabbed just 19 rebounds on a night where it did not rebound poorly; there were just no boards available from a white hot shooting Trojan team.
“We weren’t focused when we came out for the game,” Bortolotti admitted. “We let them shoot insanely well. Our defense wasn’t there tonight. Hopefully it will be the next game.”
The Panthers offense blisters when it clicks. Plumstead averaged 67 points per game in its first 10 wins. Curry creates transition baskets as well as anyone. Grow can score down low or from the perimeter.
Curry may leave Plumstead as its all-time scorer. Grow tallied his 900th career point Friday on a first quarter free throw.
“When Carson and Drew are playing well, they are huge creators for our team,” Parry commented. “When they are driving and kicking, or making opportunities for others, we thrive on that.”
The Panthers have two headliners, but numbers three through six are emerging. Curry led Plumstead with 17 on Friday, but Loving added six second half points and Parry turned heads with his performance.
Plumstead finished the week at 10-7 (5-5 Bicentennial).
“You can tell our success when three though six are contributing well and are in the box scores,” Elton concluded. “Many are JV guys who have moved up this year. We want them to hit their grooves by February so that the rotation players are all contributing. We’re trying to make that happen.”