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Central Bucks East steamrolling into basketball districts

Patriots hold on to No. 3 ranking with OT win over CB South


Central Bucks South visited CB East last Friday night and as expected, the rivalry continued, heating up perhaps by a few degrees.

The Titans came up short 61-58 in the first game with the Patriots in an early season matchup at South.

The score in this one was eerily similar – 61-57 – though an extra period was needed to determine a victor Jan. 27 at East. After a 1-9 start to their season, the Titans entered the match having won seven of their previous eight matchups.

“(CB South) Coach (Lou) Ditri does a great job with his team. He definitely has them playing their best basketball,” stated Patriots head coach Erik Henrysen. “And they definitely gave us everything we could handle.”

Trailing 27-22 at the half, the Titans roared back with an 18-point third quarter to take a 40-39 edge into the fourth period. CB South senior and leading scorer in this one with 21 points, Tyler Meinel, hit the go-ahead shot – a fall-away 3-pointer – at the third-period buzzer.

“Meinel is such a tough player. He can score from the inside, he scores from the outside, he can elevate,” explained Henrysen. “We were just hoping we could contain him a little bit. But once he got going, they definitely gained the momentum.”

Actually, the buzzer-beating bucket by Meinel was his only field goal in the quarter. The 6-5 power forward for the Titans had help from five teammates in the period including starters Chris Granito (11 points), who added a pair of field goals, Dalton Van Zanten (six), who added a bucket, and Flynn Carroll (13), who canned a trey early in the period while adding a late 3-point play to the scoring mix.

CB South reserve senior Kyle Klein chipped in with a trey to draw the visitors within four points with 1:30 left in the period and junior Dylan Valentine grabbed a give-and-go for a layup and the and-one late in the quarter, drawing South within a point with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.

CB East continued to trail until senior and leading scorer in this game with 22 points Kyle Berndt capped off an end-to-end run with a 3-pointer – one of four treys he canned in this duel – that tied the score at 46-all with 2:13 remaining in the fourth period.

Carroll added a pair of free throws and senior point guard Joey Giordano added another, putting the Pats on top 49-46 in the final minute only to witness Carroll draining a fall-away jumper from behind the arc to deadlock the sides with 20 seconds left at 49-all, which is where the score would stand at the end of regulation.

In overtime, East was finally able to tilt the scoreboard in its favor with junior Justin DiRoberto (eight points) opening the extra session with a trey of his own then blocking a shot at the other end of the court.

“We really needed that. He’s been coming through with clutch threes all year,” stated Berndt. “He keeps on doing it game in and game out and tonight, he came through right away.”

While DiRoberto’s classmate Jake Cummiskey (nine points) hit a field goal to put the Patriots up 54-49 halfway into the extra session, Meinel made his second 3-pointer with an East defender draped all over him, drawing South back within a pair with a minute remaining in OT.

To its credit, East iced the win, making three of its final four shots from the foul line including a pair by Berndt.

“The offense was flowing throughout the whole game. But when they made that run, they were making shots and we were missing,” explained Berndt. “It’s a game of runs so we decided to go on a run of our own.”

Giordano canned five of his 11 points for the game in the fourth quarter, adding a pair of key free throws in the extra period.

“Nobody can guard him, one-on-one and he knows that,” said Berndt. “He knows how to attack and he’s shifty with the ball in his hands.”

“Anytime we need a bucket we know we can count on him and he’s going to come through.”

The Patriots are having a special season. At 18-2, East is ranked third in the District One-6A power rankings and has won eight of its last nine games since the new year began.

Facing CB South last Friday, East used some prolific 3-point shooting, including seven threes in the first half and five treys in the first quarter to take a 17-13 lead into the second period. Players canning treys for the Patriots in the first quarter included junior Dhruv Mukund (seven points), DiRoberto, Cummiskey and Berndt, who hit two shots from behind the arc. Junior Tyler Dandrea hit a pair of field goals, one each in the second and third periods.

Giordano and Cummiskey get the scoring drives started for the Patriots from their position at the point. The dynamic duo combined for 20 points vs. the Titans.

“Jake and Joey – they do their thing every game,” explained Berndt. “They’re so good with the ball in their hands. They find the open guy and they’ve been doing that all season long.”

In the first battle with the Titans, CB South outrebounded East 37-18. The Titans also won the battle on the boards Friday night, though it was much closer this time, with South holding a 32-27 edge.

“We did a little bit better tonight but that’s a challenge for us against a team like that,” explained Henrysen. “They’re tough, they’re strong, they’re athletic and they get after the glass.”

Since the new year, CB South has notched impressive wins over six SOL Patriot Division foes, including 15th-ranked Pennsbury and No. 18 Neshaminy.

“It’s our defense; our coaches do a great job with our defense and that’s really where it all starts,” explained Ditri. “That’s what helps us win – when you can hold teams to a certain amount of points.”

“All of our success can be attributed to our defense and the kids have bought in.”

At press time, CB South was ranked 27th in District One and the Titans have duels left with Suburban One Colonial Division foes North Penn (Feb. 3) and Pennridge (Feb. 7). Just 24 teams earn berths in the 6A bracket so CB South needs to win to get into the postseason mix.

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