|Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV/Great Valley's Mikal Bridges rises for a jumper during Saturd|
By PETER DiGIOVANNI
CALN - This time of the season, you do not get any extra points for style. It is just survive and advance. And that is exactly what the undefeated Great Valley boys basketball team did Saturday evening in the semifinals of the Ches-Mont League Final Four Tournament at Coatesville High School.
The Patriots used another superlative performance from junior Mikal Bridges, who had 23 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots, and a solid 14-point game from senior Brad Sherry to keep a game West Chester Henderson squad at bay, 54-46.
Great Valley (23-0) shot only 12 of 24 from the foul line and did not rebound the ball as well as they usually do, but the Patriots led from start to finish to advance to Tuesday’s final against National Division champs Coatesville at Unionville High School at 7:15 p.m.
"We got the lead early and that helped us," Sherry said. "We really did not come out to play like we usually do and we struggled at times. But, with the confidence we have built up over the seaon it allowed us to make it through when they made their runs.
"Henderson played very hard and they were without Jason (McCormick) and they really battled. We did not shoot fouls well at all and that is the first thing coach (Jim) Nolan said to us after the game. We are going to do some soul searching and get to a gym and shoot some fouls."
Great Valley used the 3-point shooting of Sherry, who had three 3-balls on the night, and the inside play of Bridges to forge a 20-15 halftime lead. Great Valley jumped out to a 10-2 lead early before Henderson got its feet on the ground.
The Warriors (15-8) were getting the usual great game from guard Chas McCormick, who scored 23 points, and solely tried to will Henderson to the upset.
Sherry hit a long 3-pointer to put Great Valley up 32-24 late in the third period, but McCormick drove the ball right at Bridges and scored to make it a 32-26 game. Bridges came right back and went strong to the hole to make it 34-26, but McCormick would not go away as he scored on a driving layup to cut the lead to 34-28 after three.
"Chas McCormick had a great game for us as he always does," Henderson coach Chris Bruno said. "We did not have Jason due to illness, but that’s basketball. These kids bring their heart every game and tonight was no different. And that Great Valley team may be the most disciplined team in the district, if not the state."
The start of the fourth looked like Great Valley would put on one of its runs and win going away. Bridges made a nice feed to Chris Geiss for a layup and a 36-30 lead. A Bridges follow made it 38-30, but here came Henderson again.
Colin Costello went strong on the baseline to cut the lead to 38-32. The advantage never got above eight points and Henderson got it down to five late in the game. McCormick put on a one-man show to keep the Warriors close, but it was not enough.
Great Valley spread the floor with a little over three minutes to play, when Nate Cohen made a strong baseline move to make it 38-30 with 1:58 left. McCormick drove the lane again, got fouled and made both free throws to cut the lead to six with 1:43 to play.
Henderson got it down to 51-46 after Costello went strong to the basket with 1:21 left. But, the Patriots hit two free throws to stave off Henderson’s game upset bid.
Great Valley shot 19 for 38 from the field and handled the ball well, but Nolan pointed out the things his team did not do well, according to him.
"We did not rebound well or shoot fouls well at all," Nolan said. "But, we have won a lot of games this year and that allows up to play at a higher level when we have to and that got us through. Give Henderson and Chris a lot of credit.
"He had them ready to play us and they played at a very high level even without Jason McCormick. they play very inspired basketball."
Great Valley 54, W.C. Henderson 46
GREAT VALLEY: Bridges 9 4-8 23, Sherry 5 1-2 14, Geiss 3 2-3 8, Cohen 1 1-3 3, Gregory 0 3-6 3, Ames 1 1-2 3, Alston 0 0-0 0, Bucholz 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 12-24 54.
W.C. HENDERSON: C. McCormick 9 5-5 23, Costello 2 4-5 8, Kane 1 5-8 7, Vermeil 0 2-2 2, Cullinan 1 2-2 4, DiMatteo 1 0-0 2, Goldfine 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 18-22 46.
Great Valley 10 10 14 20-54
W.C. Henderson 6 9 13 18-46
3-point goals: Sherry 3, Bridges.