The Greenwood boys’ basketball team could not hold back a late Phil-Mont Christian rally as the Wildcats were knocked out of the PIAA tournament March 10 by a 46-45 count.
The Falcons used a relentless press to erase a 14-point deficit and end Greenwood’s season.
“I was very pleased with our tenacity and rotation tonight,” said Phil-Mont coach Glenn Dolton. “We used a press against Chester Charter (in District I final) to cut an 18-point deficit down to two, we lost by six (70-64), but is something we have been working on and been part of our arsenal.”
“We didn’t handle the pressure the way we did most of the season,” said Greenwood skipper Troy Gantt. “I felt a lot of it was self inflicted, we made some poor choices, but (the officials) left a lot go in the second half that probably should have been called.”
Washing College (MD) -bound senior forward Jack Swider catalyzed the comeback, scoring 13 of his 15 points after halftime while draining a pair of colossal 3s to trigger the rally.
“Swider is our leading scorer and player of the year in the Bicentennial Athletic League,” said Dolton. “I am thankful he had a good second half, he was pressing a little in the first half. That (deep 3 he hit) was a huge shot to get us going.”
Senior center Tyler Sherman powered the Wildcat attack with 20 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block.
“Sherman has had a great career. Tyler is the hardest worker I have ever coached and that shows. It inspires others positively,” said Gantt.
“Sherman is extremely tough; he is very good at getting to the glass and a great foul shooter. Our focus was keeping him out of the paint,” said Dolton.
Ewan Chi (eight points, three steals) got the scoring starting with a deep 3-ball as the Falcons soared to a 5-0 lead.
The Wildcats responded with an 8-2 run to finish the quarter as a pair of Sherman’s free throws delivered Greenwood the lead after the frame despite connecting on just 2 of 15 first quarter free throws.
Early in the second Samuel Myers (seven points, five rebounds and a steal) nailed a deep 3-ball to put the Cats up 15-11 and ignite a 17-6 Wildcat run. Junior Braden Sarver scored all seven of his points in the run. Sarver also pulled down seven boards. Gage Wirth (10 points, two boards and steals) capped the spurt with a buzzer beating put back bucket to give Greenwood a 29-17 halftime lead. Greenwood only turned the ball over twice in the first half.
A Sherman runner in the lane to start the second half pushed the lead to 31-17, their largest of the night.
“I thought we did a great job in the second quarter we overcame some foul trouble and got great contributions and energy plays from kids coming in off the bench and defense was solid,” said Gantt. John Taylor delivered a key steal and board while Benett Brinser sank a free throw and collected two boards.
However, things eroded from there. Swider rang up nine in the frame while Chi tallied five and Kendall Bratten (12 points, nine rebounds and a steal) chipped in four more as the Falcons pulled within 41-37 by the end of the frame.
The Wildcats struggled mightily down the stretch as a Sherman basket and pair from the stripe was all they could muster in the final frame.
A pair of Swider buckets combined with one from Bratten pulled Phil-Mont within 45-43 and Peter Haviland (10 points) drained a 3-ball with 40 seconds left which proved to be the game winner.
“It’s disappointing, obviously not how we wanted to go out, but I told the guys we can’t let the sting of this loss take away from what they accomplished throughout the season,” said Gantt.
His Wildcats racked up a 25-3 overall record including a perfect 13-0 Tri-Valley League campaign, a Tri-Valley League championship and Perry County title.
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