At the right time, the Patriots became relentless on defense.
That defense ultimately led the Central Bucks East boys basketball team (3-0) to a victory on Tuesday night, preventing a comeback from Central Bucks West (2-1) in its 59-45 win over the Bucks.
The Bucks, who trailed for the entire game after losing an early lead established in the first quarter, cut their deficit to just two points and trailed 45-43 entering the fourth quarter. In the CB West gym, it felt like the momentum had swung in favor of the Bucks, despite the Patriots’ lead. They had climbed back and everything seemed to be going their way. But CB East’s defense in the final quarter, which was the crux of its performance, prevented CB West from getting any closer.
Seniors Jacob Cummiskey and Dhruv Mukund forced multiple turnovers within five minutes left of play, amounting to a three-game win streak for CB East.
“Fourth quarter, the environment in this game is always different, everyone feels it,” Cummiskey said. “The atmosphere just makes the play different, but respect to them, they came back and made it close.”
Both teams went the first three minutes of the fourth quarter without scoring, but Cummiskey changed that with a tough finish at the rim with roughly five minutes left of play. Following his much-needed bucket was a 3-pointer from senior guard Justin DiRoberto, who ended with six points, extending the Patriots’ lead to seven and diminishing the Bucks’ comeback hopes.
Cummiskey, who has been the team’s leading scorer this season – 29 points versus William Tennent and 18 points versus Quakertown, both leading to wins – had a quiet night. The 6-3 guard scored just 13 points but is glad they were able to pull out the win in the rivaled matchup.
“I thought I had a solid game,” Cummiskey said. “I thought I was a little more quiet than normal but you know ... these kinds of East-West games, you have to take the win.”
Cummiskey, who got into early foul trouble, didn’t need to score a bunch to win the game; early and often his teammates had no issue scoring, especially from deep.
Senior guard Bryce Lolas contributed heavily in the first half, shooting 4-for-4 from deep with a game total of 12 points.
The aforementioned Mukund also played a pivotal role in East’s victory, contributing a double-double. The 6-4 forward totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds, showcasing his smooth mid-range jumpshot and physicality on his takes to the rim and rebounding battles.
For the Bucks, senior Julian Phillips led the charge in the attempted comeback, scoring a game-high 15 points.
CB East’s ability to spread the ball around and pick each other up is something Cummiskey values about his team – a team he decided to stay with after pondering a transfer to Archbishop Wood over the summer.
“The bond this group has is ... we love each other,” Cummiskey said regarding the depth of the team and his choice to stay with CB East. “We can hold each other accountable and we know when we’re right and when we’re wrong and I think that mindset is going to take us far this year.”
CB East’s bond and depth will be useful as the Patriots continue their season and take on Central Bucks South at home on Friday, Dec. 8.
“We’re coming for it all,” Cummiskey said.