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Taylor notches 1,000th point on historic day for New Hope


Usually, the banquet is the last thing the members of any team do together in the season.

Things didn’t turn out that way for the New Hope-Solebury boys basketball team this year when it held its event last Sunday night.

That’s because the Lions are still alive, one of the final 16 teams playing in the PIAA Class 3A tournament.

“Usually, the banquet is the closure of the season,” said New Hope’s longtime head coach Rick Fedele. “This was more a celebration of the success that we’ve had this year.

“And we’re not done.”

The previous day was an historic one for the Lions.

First and foremost, New Hope vanquished District 12 rival Dobbins Tech in the opening round of states. Secondly, Lions’ 6-9 senior forward Topher Taylor eclipsed 1,000 points for his high school career.

For the program, the win over Dobbins was a milestone. New Hope’s 16th of a remarkable campaign, the victory over the Mustangs represents the furthest advancement by a Fedele-led team. The Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) Independence Division Coach of the year, Fedele has guided the Lions since 2001. This is the third time he’s led New Hope to a District One crown.

In states, Taylor led the way to a 51-27 PIAA triumph over Dobbins March 9 at Upper Dublin, notching a game-high 19 points, 17 of which he tallied in the first three quarters, to put the Lions up 32-21 heading into the fourth period.

New Hope sealed the notable win nicely with a 19-6 scoring run in the final frame.

The Lions entered the game with one goal in mind.

“Sometimes, teams spend so much energy winning a district championship, they get satisfied with that,” explained Fedele.

“I told them, ‘Don’t be satisfied. That’s not the end prize that we’re going for and we’ve got to stay focused – keep pushing and challenging every day and preparing for the next opponent.’”

For its efforts, New Hope advanced to a PIAA Class 3A Sweet 16 matchup with Science Leadership Academy (SLA) at Beeber March 13 at Bensalem (results not available at press time). The Philadelphia Public League 3A champions and District 12/3A runner-up, SLA Beeber enters the game with a record of 21-6.

In the PIAA opener, Taylor tallied his historic basket in the second quarter, laying the ball in off the glass off a feed from senior co-captain Connor Wallace (seven points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals).

“I told the guys, ‘We don’t need to settle for 3-point shots; we have the ability to get to the basket,’” stated Fedele.

“And that’s what we’ve been doing.

“We’ve been dumping the ball in and looking to score with the big guy (Taylor) inside.

“We’re attacking the basket and trying to get layups or get to the foul line.

“That’s where our success comes from and it’s really been working for us.”

A BAL Independence Division first team selection this season, Taylor was also a force to be reckoned with in the District One/11 sub-regional title game versus Palmerton.

With the Lions up seven at the intermission, Taylor grabbed a dozen rebounds and tallied 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to lead New Hope to a 61-46 triumph over the Blue Bombers.

“When you have a guy that’s 6-9, you want to take advantage of that,” explained Fedele. “Last year, we had a tough time getting the ball inside.

“This year, they’re all buying in to what the game plan is.”

During a 10-4 scoring run by the Lions late in the third quarter, Taylor notched six straight points to put New Hope in control heading into the final frame. Senior Pat Cooney chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds while Wallace added 13 points, three rebounds, an assist and four steals.

Defensively, the Lions limited Palmerton’s Nate Taylor to just 14 points and eight rebounds. Earlier in the tournament, the big man for the Bombers had exploded for 25 points in Palmerton’s D-11 title win over top-seeded Notre Dame Green Pond.

In the opening round vs. Panther Valley, Cooney led a trio of scorers for New Hope with 17 points, Taylor chipped in with 13 and sophomore Alex Walinski added 11, but it was eight third-quarter points by 6-foot sophomore Phil Weinseimer that helped the Lions pad their lead to 39-23.

While the Panthers closed the gap to 39-31 with an eight-point run aided by a pair of 3-pointers by Brandon Stilitino, New Hope pulled away with 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Cooney started things off in the final frame with four straight points, and Walinski hit a pair of treys and a short jumper that spread the Lions’ lead to 51-38. New Hope then put the game away with seven straight points that went unanswered by Panther Valley.

Lion Feed: Walinski is averaging six points per game over the course of the past five duels. Last year, he led a JV team that went 15-1.

Junior point guard Mike Borys started 22 games this season, averaging 30 minutes per game before sustaining a knee injury. Senior Logan Waterman has also been a workhorse for the Lions this year. Cooney missed 10 games due to an ankle injury suffered during the football season.

New Hope added a freshman team this year. The young Lions went 5-1 for the regular season.