Miller leads Unionville over Kennett, 63-46
Even before the Unionville-Kennett basketball game tipped off last Friday evening on the Indians' home court, its narrative was already being written into the rumbling electricity that nearly filled the entire gymnasium.
The fact that the two rival schools are separated by a five-minute drive along Route 82 notwithstanding, it was also Senior Night at Unionville, as graduating cheerleaders and members of both the girls' and boys' basketball teams, accompanied by their parents, were applauded for their efforts. Oversized cardboard images of Unionville players bobbed up and down in the home student section in a playful taunt to Kennett fans on the other side, including the image of guard Scott Miller, whose image – and performance – became the story of the game.
Behind Miller's 24-point performance, Unionville defeated Kennett 63-46 to wrap up the season for both teams, while Kennett's Mitch Kosara matched Miller both in play and in the scoring column.
Miller's impact on the game began early, when with just 30 seconds gone in the first quarter, he connected on the first of his five three-pointers, but Kosara answered back with a three-pointer of his own with 6:10 left. At the 3:45 mark, Miller gave the Indians a 9-6 lead on his second three-pointer, and after a Unionville steal, found a cutting Andrew Burich for a layup with two minutes left, that gave Unionville a 12-9 lead with two minutes remaining in the first.
While Miller continued to light up the scoreboard in the second quarter, it was the defense of his teammate, Burich, that had a game-changing impact. In order to defeat Kennett, an opponent must not only hold Kosara in check but also contain the hot hand of sharp-shooter Bowen duPhily, a key part of coach Brian Grashof's offensive plans. Held to six points, duPhily was forced by Burich into taking several off-balance shots throughout the game, which then led to Unionville fast breaks.
“Andrew is the type of kid when, if there is a game against a really good player, he's the first one to walk into practice and ask to guard him,” said Unionville head coach Joe Kilpatrick. “He is physical, and he thrives on that moment.
“The game plan was to try to let Kosara get his points, and try to shut out everyone else,” Kilpatrick added. “They run duPhily a lot off screens, and we had a game plan for that, and I think we closed out on him pretty well.”
As the first half closed out, Kosara had a stretch of play that served as a preview of what Ches-Mont League opponents can expect from the outstanding sophomore during the next two seasons. After Miller's fourth three-pointer gave Unionville a 29-15 lead with 2:43 left in the half, Kosara hit two consecutive baskets, made a timely shot block, was subsequently fouled and made two free throws – all in the space of two minutes.
Early in the third, duPhily nailed one of his two three-pointers on the night, but Kennett was held to just six points in the quarter, while Unionville opened up a 46-27 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Despite a 19-point effort to close out the game – including an 11-point quarter by Kosara – Kennett could not cut into Unionville's lead.
In addition to Kosara, Kennett – who finished 3-14 overall – was led by Owen Dougherty with 8 points and duPhily with 6 points. Wrapping up a 10-12 overall record for Unionville, Miller's performance was complimented by Burich's 15 points, and a ten-point effort by Brendan Barrett.
Although both teams fell short of earning a postseason berth this year, Kennett and Unionville are expected to hover near the top of the Ches-Mont-American standings in 2017-18. While Grashof will lose seniors duPhily, William Ward, David Boulden, John Finfrock and Kerry Tomasetti to graduation this year, he has eight underclassmen returning next season, in what promises to serve as the next rung in the rebuilding of the Kennett basketball program. Just up the road, Kilpatrick is saying farewell to Barrett, Burich, Miller, Zeb Martelli, Chris D'Amico and Val Dobbins, but has four juniors and three sophomores returning next season, as well as several members of a junior varsity squad that finished 20-1 this season.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.