PW saw its season come to and end in a 70-61 loss to Reading at Temple University on Sunday in a PIAA 6A quarterfinal game. Photos provided courtesy of Donna Longacre. To view game action photos, please click on the following link: http://photos.suburbanonesports.com/g/031917_plymouth_whitemarsh_vs_reading_dl#l_dl_21071_68_9_61
#3-3 READING 70, #1-3 PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 61
They’ll remember this game as the one that got away.
With 2:10 remaining in regulation of a tie game, Kevin Tilghman buried a pair at the foul line to put the Colonials – who trailed by nine at halftime - on top 61-59. Moments later, Ish Horn blocked a shot on the defensive end with the jump ball call giving PW possession under Reading’s basket.
The Colonials appeared to be in the driver’s seat, but it turned out they weren’t. Costly turnovers down the stretch – twice on inbounds plays under Reading’s basket - allowed the Red Knights to steal the win.
“What you want to do is have the lead with two minutes to go and the ball in your hands,” coach Jim Donofrio said. “For some reason, very uncharacteristic this late in the year, we decided this was going to be an issue.”
“You have different personnel in, and you have to come up with some different ideas to come open – two guys crossed the wrong way. Then to compound it is just, I’m sure for the kids, very frustrating. All you want to do is have the ball in your hands with the lead with two minutes to go. If you’re up two with the ball, you have to win that game.”
While the outcome may have been disappointing, the effort of the Colonials was not, especially on the heels of a Friday night’s emotional come-from-behind win over Pocono Mountain West.
“You play a game like Friday night, and on Saturday, you just want to go shopping and tell the kids, ‘I don’t want to see you,’ and just enjoy the glow of it,” Donofrio said. “Instead, you’re listening to me for another three hours.
“You’re trying to win three games in five days in the state tournament, and my biggest concern was emotional lift. Friday night’s game was a 17-round boxing match. I’m thinking if we do pull this one out – what do you have for Monday and Tuesday, but the kids were great. They have a lot of pride, and they do what most teams do – they fight.”
The Colonials had their hands full against a Lonnie Walker led Reading squad. The University of Miami recruit wasn’t a factor early on and had just two points in the first quarter, but Tyrone Nesby was more than happy to pick up the slack, torching the Colonials for 11 points. Behind six points from Ahmad Williams and five from Horn, PW led 16-13 after one quarter.
After Williams drew a charge on the defensive end on Reading’s opening possession of the second quarter, Horn scored on a drive to put the Colonials up by five. The Red Knights responded with a 10-0 tear, and Reading – sparked by 12 points from Jose Genao Bataista – took a 39-30 lead into halftime.
Donofrio inserted Kevin Tilghman into the lineup in the third quarter and reaped immediate dividends. The junior guard scored nine points in the frame with his clutch 3-pointer igniting a 14-6 tear to close out the quarter that knotted the score 50-50.
“It’s kind of the story of our season – we’ve left probably a lot of great performances on the bench because there’s that much parity,” Donofrio said. “You almost want to apologize to three or four guys every night because the game is just not long enough for this particular team.
“Sometimes it just became an idea who might be faster in this moment, who might hit a shot in this moment, so we started the second half with Jason (Paul) and Kevin (Tilghman) out there to have double 3-point threats.”
Five straight points by Lonnie Walker to open the fourth quarter – which included a resounding dunk – put the Red Knights on top 55-50.
The Colonials knotted the score 57-57 after a Tilghman three-pointer, and it was a 59-59 game after a Williams fast break bucket, setting the stage for Tilghman’s go ahead foul shots after a Reading turnover. The Red Knights closed it out with an 11-2 run, bringing an end to the Colonials’ state title hopes.
Many will be saying the Colonials exceeded expectations after the graduation of key players from last year’s successful squad. Donofrio wasn’t ready to go down that road after Sunday’s disappointing loss.
“I’m spoiled, and I’m older and I’m ornery now,” the Colonials’ coach said. “In a month, you look back and say ‘Good run,’ but when you’re in it and see what they’re capable of – I knew we had the ability. When we lost (point guard) Ahmin (Williams), I was certainly concerned, but Ish (Horn) stepped it up.
“I made the commitment to the team, and it’s a dangerous commitment. The message to the kids yesterday was – many, many teams in a state tournament win a game and they say, ‘aren’t we fortunate’ and they stay humble. I’m not doing that this year. This is the one where you see the love of your life from across the room, and you say, ‘You know what – I’m going to go all the way in on this, and if I get my heart broken, I get it broke.’ Right now I’m annoyed because I committed the whole way to it, and I’ve got to get past that because in all honesty, we were in a position to win this tournament.”
Williams (15 points) and Tilghman (14 points) led the Colonials. Horn finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Alan Glover added six points off the bench.
Nesby and Walker shared scoring honors for the Red Knights. Both finished with 20 points.
“Major guys like (Lonnie) Walker – it’s a feeling out process,” Donofrio said. “Matt Walker is a very cagey defender, and we would send a little help if we had to, and we would have to.
“I thought Ahmad (Williams) raised his game on him and kept him on the perimeter. As long as he’s on the perimeter, we’re not going to make any moves. There were some missed assignments early, but that’s the feeling out process.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh closed out its season with a 25-6 record (14-0 SOL) and will return a strong core of players from this squad..
“I just told the kids - their ability to concentrate as long as we practice and they want to be in the gym all the time,” Donofrio said. “The program is in a tremendous place.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh 16-16-18-11 61
Reading 13-24-13-20 70
Plymouth Whitemarsh (61) – Ish Horn 4 0-2 9; Kevin Tilghman 3 6-7 14; Kareem Breeden 1 0-0 2; Naheem McLeod 1 0-0 2; Danny Cooper 0 0-0 0 Matt Walker 1 1-2 4; Cheo Houston 1 2-2 4; Ahmad Williams 3 9-12 15; Jason Paul 1 2-2 5; Alan Glover 2 2-2 6; Devon Lawrence 0 0-0 0; Totals 17 22-29 61.
Reading (70) – Hector 1 1-2 3; Xavier Starks 0 0-0 0; Wesley Butler 1 2-2 4; Lonnie Walker 7 6-9 20; Tyrone Nesby 8 1-1 20; Jose Genao Batista 4 2-3 12; Isaiah Cook 4 2-2 11; Ricky Lopez 0 0-0 0; Tymir Comfort 0 0-0 0; Totals 25 14-19 70.
3-point field goals: Tyrone Nesby 3, Jose Genao Batista 2, Kevin Tilghman 2, Ish Horn, Matt Walker, Jason Paul.