|Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV/Coatesville's Chris Jones rises for a dunk Thursday|
By PETER DiGIOVANNI
WEST CHESTER -- One thing most championship basketball teams do well is to attack the offensive glass for second chances. Coatesville used that advantage to become champions of the National Division of the Ches-Mont League courtesy of a tough 51-47 victory over a stubborn West Chester Henderson on Thursday night at Reichert Gymnasium.
The Red Raiders, who have won seven straight league or division titles will go into Saturday’s Ches-Mont League Final Four as the top seed from the National and will face West Chester Rustin, at home, at 6:30 p.m. Henderson will face the top seed in the American Division, Great Valley at 5 p.m.
Coatesville used two superlative performances from its two big men -- Leroy Hoggard and the muscular Jaquan Hollingshead -- to wear down Henderson (9-3 Ches-Mont, 13-9 overall) and take the hard-fought win. Hollinghead had 14 points, eight rebounds and 10 of those points came in the third period. Hoggard came through late in the fourth period and he led Coatesville (11-1, 16-6) with 14 points.
"I knew the team needed a boost at halftime, so I went strong to the glass in the third period," Hollinghead said. "I can play face up to the basket or with my back to it, whatever is needed. We practice hard and we play hard. I feel this team can win states and that is our goal."
With a 25-22 halftime lead, Coatesville used its pressure defense and quick hands to create 26 turnovers, 16 in the second half. Coatesville coach Rick Nelms talked about the play of his team.
"I thought Chris Jones and Jaquan played very well tonight," Nelms said. "And Leroy Hoggard was great for us attacking the glass and getting some late baskets."
Hollingshead scored on three straight putbacks in the third, each time with Henderson players draped on his body. It was old-time, power basketball and Coatesville used it to forge a 38-31 advantage after three periods. The Red Raiders shot 6-for-12 in the period, with Hollinghead going 5-for-5 himself. Coatesville outscored the Warriors, 13-9 in the period.
Henderson does not go away easily, led by Chas McCormick’s game-high 16 points and good solid play from Declan Kane and Colin Costello, the Warriors kept coming back at the powerful Red Raiders.
Hollingshead scored in tight to make it a 42-36 game with just 3:45 to play. A Henderson turnover created a monster slam by Jones to make it 44-36 and it looked like Henderson was through. But, the Warriors came right back with sophomre Andy Vermeil hitting a long 3-pointer to make it a 45-40 game with 1:41 to play.
"Henderson always plays the same way," Nelms said. "They never give up and they keep coming at you."
Another costly turnover turned into Dre Boggs hitting Hoggard with a nice feed. Henderson came down the floor and missed a jumper and the Red Raiders found Hoggard underneath for a a 49-40 lead. Costello buried a three-ball to make it 49-43, but the game Warriors ran out of time.
"We were in a 1-2-2 and I just had to crash the galss and go strong," Hoggard said. "Once we attacked the glass, we took the game away from them. We can defintiely make a run in districts and states if we play as a team. We have the talent here."
Henderson coach Chris Bruno did not want to talk about the turnovers, just the great atmosphere and excitement the game provided.
"This is what it is all about, the number one and two teams going at it in front of a packed crowd," Bruno said. "There is still a lot more basketball to play and hats off to Coatesville because they are very good."
Coatesville 51, W.C. Henderson 47
COATESVILLE: Boggs 4 2-4 10, Hollingshead 6 2-2 14, Hoggard 5 2-3 13, Lewis 2 1-1 6, Jones 1 1-4 3, Hunt 2 0-1 5, Burke 0 0-0 0, Parker 0 0-0 0, Crutchfield 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 8-15 51.
W.C. HENDERSON: C. McCormick 7 2-4 16, Costello 4 3-5 13, Kane 3 2-6 9, Vermeil 2 0-0 6, DiMatteo 1 1-2 3. Smith 0 0-0 0, Goldfine 0 0-0 0, Cullinan 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 8-17 47.
Coatesville 15 10 13 13-51
W.C. Henderson 15 7 9 16-47
3-point goals: Lewis, Hunt, Kane, Costello 2, Vermeil 2.