By PETER DiGIOVANNI
EAST WHITELAND -- You do not win 18 straight basketball games by being lucky or depending on just one or two players. No, it takes a total team effort to reach the heights the Great Valley boys basketball team has attained so far this season.
Thursday night in a Ches-Mont American Division clash with Oxford, Great Valley got contributions from every player who entered the game and used a third-period burst from star Mikal Bridges to take down a game Oxford squad, 47-37.
Bridges and Brad Sherry sat for most of the second period due to foul trouble, but in stepped Mike Gregory, who buried three long three-balls as he and Nate Cohen led the Patriots (10-0 Ches-Mont, 19-0 overall) to a 20-13 halftime lead.
"I was getting some nice open looks and everybody always tells me to shoot so I took some shots," Gregory said. "We are going to need everybody in the upcoming playoffs and we battled when Mikal and Brad went to the bench. I have confidence in my shot and tonight it worked out.
"There is a little more presuure having won 18 games in a row but with that comes confidence too."
Oxford came out ready in the third period, but a quick barrage by the magical Bridges was something the Hornets (6-4, 11-9) were powerless to stop. Sherry started the scoring with a three-ball from the top of the key for a 23-13 advantage. Cohen then blocked a Musty Mahmud shot and off to the races went Sherry, who beat everyone down the floor and took a nice feed from Cyree Ames for a layup and a 25-13 lead.
Then, it was the Bridges show. While Oxford shot just 3-for-12 in the period, Bridges blew the game wide open. To start the thrill show, Bridges went strong down the lane for a driving basket and Great Valley had a 30-15 lead. After Mahmud scored in tight to make it a 30-17 game, Bridges went off.
He blocked an Oxford shot, ran the floor, took a feed from Sherry and buried a long three to make it a 34-17 game. After another Oxford turnover, Bridges took the ball at halfcourt, darted toward the top of the key, rose up and sank another three for a 37-17 lead and the Hornets were effectively out of the game right there. Bridges led the Patriots with 16 points, including four three-pointers.
"Mikal has the capability to take over games and in the third period tonight he did that," Great Valley coach Jim Nolan said. "And I was happy with the way our bench played tonight when we had some foul trouble. And Mike Gregory hit some big shots for us when we needed them.
"I also want to say that I think Sean (Oxford coach Harvey) does a great job getting the most out of his kids. They are a young team and they really battled tonight."
Oxford did not roll over, as Nolan pointed out. The Hornets actually drew to within 41-30 with 3:15 left when Jordan Logan hit an open jumper. Logan led all scorers with 17 points. But, Great Valley spread the floor and Cohen hit two free throws to keep the lead safe and win number 19 was in the books for the Patriots.
"I mean Bridges is a heck of a player," Harvey said. "I thought besides the third period burst we did a pretty good job of containing him."
Notes: Nate Cohen had 10 rebounds to lead the game and great Valley will host Penn Wood Saturday night in a key nonlegue clash.
Great Valley 47, Oxford 37
OXFORD (37): Logan 5 5-6 17, Mahmud 4 0-0 8, Clarke 3 0-2 6, Farr 1 2-2 4, Hubvley 1 0-0 2, Dunn 0 0-0 0, Herb 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 7-10 37.
GREAT VALLEY (47): Bridges 6 0-0 16, Sherry 4 1-2 10, Gregory 3 0-2 9, Ames 0 2-2 2, Cohen 2 5-6 9, Dickinson 0 0-0 0, Bucholz 0 0-0 0, Alston 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 8-12 47.
Oxford 5 8 6 18 -- 37
Great Valley 8 12 17 10 -- 47
3-point goals: Gregory 3, Bridges 4, Sherry, Logan 2.