By PETER DiGIOVANNI
PLYMOUTH MEETING -- When postseason tournament time comes it is not about style, just results. And although Friday night in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Church Farm did not play well at all, turning the ball over a season-high 28 times, the end result is that the Griffins lived to play another day.
Church Farm did force New Hope Academy into 30 turnovers and kept a big first-period lead safe to triumph, 58-44. The Griffins will play the District 11 champion Mahanoy Area or District 4’s Muncy Tuesday night at a time and place to be determined.
Aondofa Anyam led the Griffins (21-5) with 19 points and added four assists to go along with three steals and was easily the best player on the floor.
“Our focus dropped a lot after we got that big early lead,” Anyam said. “We did not focus and take care of the basketball like we should. Coach (Marc) Turner talked about that to us in the locker room after the game. “
The first period saw a big Church Farm rush started by its tenacious defense as Joey Shelton stole a New Hope Academy pass, drove the floor, scored, and hit the free throw to complete the three-point play for a 13-6 lead.
Anyam then stripped a Mighty Ants guard and scored in transition for a 15-6 edge. John Rodriguez, who scored eight points on the night, created another steal and took a nice feed from Anyam and scored for a 17-6 advantage. After another New Hope turnover -- one of 10 first-period miscues for the Mighty Ants -- Jan Bohm hit a driving Anyam in full stride for a 19-6 lead to end the first.
The carnage continued in the second, although Church Farm did turn the ball over 14 times themselves in the first half. Baskets by Anyam and Mlynue Reeeves at the end of the second period sent the Griffins into the locker room with a big 34-20 edge.
“When your offense is not working as well as it should, you can always play good defense and create scoring chances for your team and that is what we did tonight.” Anyam said.
New Hope Academy (18-6), tried to get back into the game. Led by Ishmael Brown’s 13 points, the Mighty Ants battled hard the entire second half. The Ants did not shoot well enough however to come all the way back as New Hope shot just 16 for 50 (32 percent) on the night to go along with those 30 miscues.
They shranked Church Farm’s lead to 54-44 with 1:56 to play in the game after a 3-pointer from Dominque Salisbury. But, two Bohm free throws and a blocked shot by Larry Cermak, one of five on the night for the 6-foot-9 senior, kept the Griffins safe and put them into Tuesday’s second round.
“We have young guards and they played very young tonight,” Church Farm coach Marc Turner said. “We have not turned the ball over like that all season and I think we played down to the level of competition. We will clean things up Saturday in practice and they will not happen again.
“We know what we can do and what type of team we are, so I am not worried. These things happen at times and they will not happen to us again. This time of the year it is all about execution and efficiency and we were neither tonight. It will be addressed as it was in the locker room and we will grow from it.”
Church Farm 58, New Hope Academy 44
NEW HOPE ACADEMY: Serrano 3 1-2 7, Salisbury 5 2-2 13, Brown 5 3-4 13, Morgan 2 2-2 7, Harris 1 0-0 2, Matthews 0 2-4 2, Murray 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-10 44.
CHURCH FARM: Anyam 8 3-4 19, Rodriguez 3 2-3 8, Mohammed 2 8-11 12, Bohm 1 2-4 4, Shelton 2 1-2 5, Cermak 0 3-5 3, Reeves 2 1-3 5, Ofray 1 0-0 2, Towles 0 0-0 0, McDuffy 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 20-34 58.
New Hope Academy 8 12 11 13-44
Church Farm 19 15 13 11-58
3-point goals: Morgan, Salisbury.