|Staff photo by Vinny Tennis/Coatesville's Leroy Hoggard rises for a jumper during Tuesday's victory over Great Valley in the Ches-Mont boys championship|
By PETER DiGIOVANNI
EAST MARLBOROUGH -- Championship basketball games are normally fiercely contested battles between two teams who desperately want to be called champions. More often than not the team that imposes its will down the stretch will be the one celebrating at the end of the game.
At a jam packed Unionville High School on Tuesday, Coatesville took over the game in the fourth period from Great Valley and captured the boys Ches-Mont League Final Four Tournament championship with a thrilling 51-46 victory and knocked the American Division titleists from the ranks of the unbeatens. The Red Raiders return to the Ches-Mont throne after losing to Octorara last season.
Coatesville (18-6) trailed, 30-27, after three, but outscored the Patriots (23-1) 24-16 in the final period, fueled by the sparkling guard play of Chris Jones, who tallied 14 points and Dre Boogs, who had a team-high 16. Coatesville shot 7-for-9 in the fourth after going 11-for-30 in the first three periods.
"We started to play solid defense in the fourth period and stopped reaching," Jones said. "I think we got them rattled and our crowd was great and we just fed off the atmosphere tonight. It means a whole lot to win the Ches-Mont after losing to Octorara last year. We wanted to show people we are still the power in the Ches-Mont League."
The game was played mostly at Great Valley’s pace for the first 24 minutes. After Mike Gregory drained a 3-pointer and Mikal Bridges, who led all scorers with 22 points, threw down a slam, Great Valley led, 30-24, with 1:02 left in the third. Coatesville got closer after Jones scored in tight, got fouled and hit the free throw to make it a 30-27 game after three.
Emmett Hunt had a three-point play to start the fourth and tie the score at 30-30. Coatesville then turned up the pace of the game and the pressure on Great Valley, which had only eight turnovers coming into the fourth, but two very big ones to turn the tide of the game.
Leroy Hoggard used his quick hands to force the first Great Valley miscue and then scored on a layup. Boggs stole a pass and went high above the rim for a monster slam and Coatesville’s crowd erupted as the Red Raiders took a 34-31 lead with 4:23 to play.
"We changed defenses a few times in the fourth period and then Dre got us going with that slam," Coatesville coach Rick Nelms said. "We have a deep team and that really helped us tonight. Great Valley is a very good team."
Bridges knocked down a 3-ball to draw Great Valley to within 37-36. But, Jones came right back and went down the lane for a bucket, Bridges then missed a jumper and Boggs fed Jones for a basket and a 41-36 adavantage with 2:23 to play.
"We started to impose our will on them in the fourth period," Hunt said. "We really wanted this because we lost last year and Nelms let me play a lot this year and I just wanted to help the team. Tonight it was Chris, the last game was Dre and the game before that was Jaquan (Hollingshead). We have a lot of guys just like football. you never know who is going to make a play."
Boggs made the next big play going straight to the rim for a score and a 43-38 advantage with 1:43 to play. Chris Geiss scored for the Patriots to make it a 43-40 game with 1:27 to play.
But, Jones drained two free thorws and Boggs hit one of two while Great Valley missed on two possessions and Coatesville celebrated another Ches-Mont League title.
The loss was the Patriots’ first of the season and with the Class AAAA District 1 playoffs coming up Friday, coach Jim Nolan hopes his team can recover quickly.
"The two turnovers and some offensive rebounds hurt us," Nolan said. "We hope the kids have a little amnesia and forget about this one, but learn from their mistakes and come out ready on Friday."
Great Valley was given the number three seed in Tuesday’s District seeding meeting and will host No. 30 Harry S Truman on Friday. Coatesville earned the No. 10 seed and will entertain No. 23 Kennett.
Coatesville 51, Great Valley 46
GREAT VALLEY: Bridges 8 4-4 22, Sherry 2 1-2 6, Geiss 3 1-5 7, Gregory 3 0-0 7, Cohen 1 2-4 4, Ames 0 0-0 0.
Totals 17 8-14 46.
COATESVILLE: Boggs 5 6-10 16, Jones 5 3-3 14, Hunt 3 2-3 11, Hoggard 2 0-0 4, Hollingshead 3 0-2 6, Burke 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0, Lewis 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 13-20 51.
Great Valley 4 16 10 16-46
Coatesville 7 8 12 24-51
3-point goals: Sherry, Gregory, Bridges 2, Jones, Hunt.