Unionville defeats Kennett, 52-49
Unionville's Atma Bery sinks a free throw during the Indians' 52-49 victory over Kennett on Dec. 20.
By Richard L. Gaw
In life, there is very little that can
be classified as a sure thing, but in the long and storied athletic
rivalry between Kennett and Unionville, it is safe to say that those
who attend these contests will always be treated to a great show.
For those bundles souls who came in from the cold this past Saturday afternoon to attend the basketball game between rivals Kennett and Unionville at Reynolds Gymnasium in Kennett Square, they were rewarded with a well-fought battle that ended with a 52-49 Unionville win.
Typical of athletic contests between these two schools, the cross-town hype lived up to expectations and, typical of basketball games between these two schools, the game had all of the grace and beauty of a husband wrapping gifts in the darkened hours before Christmas morning.
For the better part of four quarters, the game resembled a furious scrum complete with changing leads, aggressive play in the paint, fast breaks and the never-say-die rise of leaders on both sides – all of which ended with a clutch three-pointer by Atma Bery to ice the victory in the closing minutes of play.
It didn't begin that way, however. The Blue Demons jumped out to a quick 14-17 lead at the end of the first quarter, led by a three-pointer by Connor McGlone that gave Kennett a 5-0 lead. Jackson Hyland closed out Kennett's scoring in the first with two of free throws he acquired while being fouled in the act of shooting a three-point attempt.
In the second quarter, however, Unionville outscored its opponent, 21-11 on the strength of its perimeter shooting. A three-pointer by Drew Menninger early in the quarter cut Kennett's lead to 14-10, which was followed by a another three-pointer by Ryan Engle a minute later that cut the lead to a point.
“I just told them when we had our first time out to settle down, that I knew that our offense was going to click, and we had three threes in a row during one stretch,” said Unionville head coach, Joe Kilpatrick. “I also think our defensive intensity picked up. I knew that if we were going to climb back in the game, that it would be possession by possession, and it would start on the defensive end.”
With 5:30 left in the first half, Bery's first three-pointer of the game tied the game at 16 – a bucket that seemed to open the floodgates to what would become a game of alternating momentum. With 4:30 left in the first half, McGlone's three-pointer gave the Blue Demons a 21-18 lead, which was then erased by a superb pass by Bery to Spencer Kramer underneath the basket with 2:15 remaining that gave the Indians a 23-2 lead.
With 14 seconds left, Unionville's Alex Pechin was fouled on a drive to the basket. Although he missed both free throws, his second was rebounded by Matt Godek, who scored on a short jumper to give the Indians a 28-25 halftime lead.
Unionville maintained its three-point lead at the end of the third quarter, despite Hyland's emergence as the dominant player in the game. On his way to a game-high 21 points, Hyland kept the Blue Demons in the game with two jumpers, a three-pointer, as well as two free throws, which he made after being fouled with seconds remaining in the quarter.
As the tenor of the fourth quarter began to reveal itself, it gave rise to the notion that the first three quarters served as little more than preparation for the game's frantic conclusion. With one minute gone in the fourth, Kennett's Michael Bolden's follow-up shot after a rebound pulled Kennett to within one point of Unionville. At the 5:32 mark, Hyland's three-pointer gave Kennett a 43-42 lead, which was quickly followed by another three-pointer by McGlone. With four minutes left in the game, Bery's jumper tied the game at 46.
After Indian head coach Kilpatrick called a time-out with two minutes left, Bery calmly hit his second three-pointer from just beyond the arc, to put Unionville ahead, 49-48 – a lead it would never relinquish. With 15 second left, two free throws by Engle extended Unionville's lead to 51-48.
With 13 seconds remaining, Hyland was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one. The ball was rebounded by Unionville's Pat Clark, who was then called for traveling. On the in-bounds pass, Boulden's pass was intercepted by the Indians' Jimmy Nowoswait, who was promptly fouled and made one of two free throws.
“Every game against Kennett unfolds like this, and I told them we need to take care of the ball and give Kennett no second-chance points,” Kilpatrick said.
The key to stopping Kennett, he said, is 'Stop Hyland.'
“He's one of the hardest guys in the Ches-Mont to defend,” Kilpatrick said. “We were switching two-three, three-two, box-and-one and man, so our philosophy was that if we changed up the defense, it would confuse them on offense. He's going to get his points, and I knew that coming in, but it was just a matter of stopping everyone else.”
Unionville was led by Bery's 14 points, followed by Engle's 13. After Hyland, McGlone scored 13 points for Kennett.
The win gives Unionville a 4-4 overall record on the early campaign, and a 2-1 standing in the Ches-Mont American, while Kennett fell to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Ches-Mont American. Unionville next plays at Bayard Rustin on Jan. 6, while Kennett travels to William Tennent in Warminster on Dec. 30.