By PETER DiGIOVANNI
WESTTOWN -- The Great Valley boys basketball team set some high goals for themselves this season. First up is to win the Ches-Mont American Division and be the number one seed in the upcoming Ches-Mont Final Four.
Tuesday night brought the first check mark on the list. The undefeated Patriots sliced, diced and chopped up host West Chester Rustin, 61-38, blowing the game open right form the outset.
Great Valley (11-0 Ches-Mont, 21-0 overall) jumped out to an 18-2 lead after the first period and never let Rustin (9-2, 11-10) up for air. Mikal Bridges led all scorers with 22 points to go along with five blocks. He also played point guard, bringing the ball up the floor for the Patriots at times.
"We came out real strong and moved the ball around to each other and when we do that we are a very good team," Bridges said. "As far as taking the ball up, I like the ball in my hands, so it is fine. Our first goal was to win the American and then win the Ches-Mont and then we will worry about districts and states."
Great Valley got going right away when Cyree Ames took a feed off the opening tip and scored on a layup to make it 2-0. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Brad Sherry and Nate Cohen gave Great Valley a 12-2 advantage. Rustin shot just 13 for 54 on the night -- 1-for-12 in a dreadful opening period -- while Great Valley was 7-for-9 from the floor in the first period.
Bridges scored two straight inside baskets to end the quarter to put Great Valley up 18-2. Chris Geiss, who had a strong game with 12 points, started the second by going strong to the hole for a basket. A Sherry three-ball and a Bridges follow made it 25-2. The the suspense fell right out of Rustin’s gym when Bridges threw down a monster slam on a fast break.
"We really came out motivated to play Rustin," Geiss said. "We are a very atheltic and disciplined team and (coach Jim) Nolan has a good plan for us each game and we buy into the system and it is working. We now want to win the Ches-Mont playoffs and do well in the district playoffs."
Rustin shot 3-for-22 in the first half and trailed 34-9 at intermission. To the Golden Knights’ credit they did not quit. Tyler Blake and Matt McCarrick played well int he second half with McCarick scoring a team-high 13 points and Blake chipping in 10.
Great Valley’s lead never went below 19 points as Bridges, Geiss, Sherry and the rest of the Patriots showed just how talented they are. Nolan cleared his bench in the second half and it is now on to the Ches-Mont Final Four for the undefeated Patriots on Saturday where they will meet the second seed from the National Division at 5 p.m. at Coatesville.
"We came out and played really well at the beginning of the game tonight," Nolan said. "We shared the ball and did a lot of good things early on."
The second bad loss in a row for the Golden Knights makes Thursday’s game at home with Oxford a must win if Rustin is going to qualify for the district playoffs and coach Keith Cochran was not too happy.
"You cannot get behind a good team like that like we did tonight," Cochran said. "We have to clear this one out and get ready for Thursday. We have no choice but to be ready."
Great Valley 61, W.C. Rustin 38
GREAT VALLEY: Bridges 9 3-8 22, Geiss 5 2-2 12, Sherry 4 2-4 11, Cohen 1 2-2 5, Drill 1 0-0 3, Ames 1 0-2 2, Alston 0 2-3 2, Dickinson 1 0-1 2, Strang 0 2-2 2, Miller 0 0-0 0, Gregory 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 13-26 61.
W.C. RUSTIN: McCarrick 3 6-8 13, Blake 3 4-8 10, Andersson 3 1-2 7, Chobany 1 0-0 2, Richardson 1 0-0 2, Ridgeway 1 0-0 2, Stweart 1 0- 12, Nelson 0 0-0 0, Ammerman 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 11-19 38.
Great Valley 18 16 12 15-61
W.C. Rustin 2 7 13 16-383-point goals: Sherry, Bridges, Cohen, Drill, McCarrick.