By PETER DiGIOVANNI
DOWNINGTOWN -- The Downingtown West boys basketball team started the season 0-5 and looked to be dead in the water for any district playoff hopes. Well, think again.
Thursday night the Whippets played a beautiful game of team basketball -- without three of their starters -- and led wire to wire in a convincing 51-35 triumph over West Chester East in Ches-Mont League National Division play.
The win was their fourth in a row and now Downingtown West (6-3 Ches-Mont, 9-9 overall) has legitimate hopes of gaining entrance into the Ches-Mont Final Four and the Class AAAA District 1 playoffs if they continue to play as they did Thursday night.
The Whippets continually beat East (1-6, 5-11) off the dribble and kicked out to an open teammate for an easy look at the basket. Junior Sean Loerzel led all scorers with 21 points, while Colin Reilly had 15. Evan Anderson led East with 11 points.
"We were without three starters tonight and another one, Greg Lattanzi, goes out of the game in the first period with an injury and we beat a team by double digits," Downingtown West coach Jason Ritter said. "We played very unselfish basketball tonight and we got good games from a lot of different people.
"We want to keep it going right now. This was our fourth win in a row and I am very happy with the way we played tonight."
Downingtown West held a 21-15 lead over the Vikings at halftime, and opened things up immediately in the third period. West shot 7-for-9 in the period, outscoring East, 16-10, to take command of the game.
Reilly started things off by driving hard down the lane for a 23-15 lead. Kevin Murphy came right back for East to make it a 23-17 game, but Loerzel went strong to the hole for a 25-17 Whippet lead. A Reilly 3-pointer made it a 28-17 game and East was in trouble.
The Vikings shot just 6-for-24 in the second half and could not find the basket. But, the Vikings did hang around. Anderson hit three of four free throws to make it 33-23 with just over a minute to play in the third. But, Loerzel hit a wide open jumper at the buzzer to give Downingtown West a 37-25 lead after three.
"We talked at halftime about coming out strong and getting on them," Loerzel said. "Tonight we tried to make the assist with the extra pass and think about our teammates more than making the shot. Our goal is to make the Ches-Mont playoffs and the district playoffs so we have to continue to play well."
East got a long three-ball from Nick Scotese to start the fourth and make it a 37-28 game. But, once again the West subs came to the rescue. Dion Lattanzi hit a corner jumper and Loerzel scored off an East turnover for a 41-29 adavantage with 4:34 to play.
Downingtown West continued its hot shooting in the fourth period, going 5-for-11 and finishing the night shooting 21-for-39.
Every time it looked like the Vikings would make a run, Loerzel seemed to right the ship and hit the open man or bury a medium range jumper. The Whippets now go to Coatesville next Tuesday night in a National Division showdown before taking on West Chester Henderson next Thursday.
East coach Eric Anderson talked about how his team’s defense did not please him tonight.
"We were not helping each other out," Anderson said. "We took a few timeouts and we told them that we all have the same color jersey on and we have to help each other, but we did not do that. We were very selfish tonight and I am not happy."
Downingtown West 51, W.C. East 35
W.C. EASt (35): Anderson 3 5-7 11, K. Murphy 4 2-5 10, Scotese 3 1-1 8, Leonard-Hakim 2 0-0 4, K. Smith 1 0-0 2, Z. Smith 0 0-0 0, A. Murphy 0 0-0 0, Cheney 0 0-0 0, Chittajallu 0 0-0 0, Hostetler 0 0-0 0, Canarano 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 8-15 35.
DOWNINGTOWN WEST (51): Loerzel 8 4-4 21, Reilly 6 2-4 15, Hall 1 1-3 3, Long 1 0-1 2, D. Lattanzi 1 0-0 2, Warren 1 0-0 2, Johnson 1 0-0 2, G. Lattanzi 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 7-12 51.
W.C. East 6 9 10 14 -- 35
Downingtown West 11 10 16 14 -- 51
3-point goals: Scotese, Reilly, Loerzel.