Entering a new season, every team dreams of capturing a league title. The journey to reach that goal can prove an exciting and hectic one. This year’s league opener between Pennsbury and Council Rock North, won by the Falcons 51-48, possessed both these qualities.
Based on their performance last season, Pennsbury knows all about league titles. They placed first in the highly competitive Suburban One League National Division with an impressive 11-1 record. They then went on to become a SOL tournament semi-finalist before bowing out in District One play to Conestoga by a close 58-55 margin.
Council Rock finished fourth in the National Division with a highly respectable 6-5 mark. Seeded 20th in the PIAA District One Tournament they lost a 59 -55 heartbreaker to Spring-Ford.
That, however, was last season. This year the Rock would find itself without such key components as DJ Mischak, James Duffy, Zach Saifer, Josh Fisher and Parker Ehlein, all gone the cap-and-gown route. Pennsbury would be without the services of graduates Gary Francis and Charles Nushcke. Francis was a SOL first team honoree who averaged 23.6 points per game.
Both squads still had plenty of offensive potential, mainly found in the guard position. The Falcons depend on the crisp ball handling and outside shooting of Collin Connor, Kyrie Miller and Amir Johnson. The Indians would counter with Hunter Wan, Luke Vliet and Bernie Parent.
The league opener, played out in the Council Rock gym, meant more than a good start in the SOL. Both teams were winless. Pennsbury suffered two losses at the hands of catholic league powerhouses Archbishop Carrol (48-34) and Archbishop Ryan (71-43). The Rock shared a similar fate losing their first two encounters to Dock Mennonite (68-41) and Lansdale Catholic (48-36), a game in which they squandered an early lead.
Pennsbury drew first blood in the crucial first encounter. Kyrie Miller broke free for two layups and Evan Reichard tallied on a put back to give the Falcons an early 6-0 lead before the Rock’s Bernie Parent nailed a shot beyond the arc to add three to the Indian’s score.
For the rest of the quarter it was the Collin Connor show. The 5’9” point guard nailed three long range bombs to help the Falcons take a 21-5 lead. The assault continued in the second quarter with Connor hitting for six more points. He was amply supported by Evan McNeely and Evan Reichard as the Falcons would go into halftime with a seemingly insurmountable 32-13.
Connor would finish the night as the game high scorer with 21 points, including three treys. McNeely added 10 points to the Falcon attack, hitting on three three-pointers.
The Indians, however were not about to roll over. Having shaken off their erratic first half shooting, they outscored Pennsbury 24-10 in the third period to narrow the margin to 42-37. Key to the resurgence was the deadly shooting from beyond the arc by Luke Vliet. The shooting guard nailed three treys in the quarter to spark the Indians offense. He would be amply aided by Parent, Mikey Sylvester, and Hunter Wan.
Parent would lead his team with 16 points followed closely by Vliet with 13 tallies, four three-pointers, and Sylvester with 7 points.
Pennsbury coach Bill Coleman summed up the third quarter action, saying. “We came out in the second half, not a lot of energy at all, and North started hitting threes. They scored 24 points in the third quarter and I think seven of them were threes. We were not staying attached to our matchups. We were switching when we shouldn’t be switching. There was no ball pressure. They took advantage of it and made it a game. Kudos to them. They didn’t stop playing.”
The two teams battled through a frantic final quarter that saw North outscore Pennsbury by an 11-9 margin. Working a weave offense and capitalizing on some crucial outside shooting by Cooper Arnold and Evan McNeely, the Falcons, however, held on to capture a 51-48 win.
Though it is only a beginning, the intensity shown by both teams indicates that this is going to be an exciting season in the Suburban One League.