Unionville falls in first round of state tourney, 64-5403/11/2023 05:22PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Six days removed from its 61-36 loss to Radnor in the PIAA District I 5A final on March 4 at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, the Unionville boy’s varsity basketball team looked to take away the sting of the loss with a comeback win against visiting Muhlenberg in the opening round of the PIAA District I 5A state tournament on March 10.
Instead – and despite the enthusiastic presence of its student section -- the Longhorns watched the Muhls dance on their own court, moments after they absorbed a crushing 64-54 defeat that served as a dour conclusion to a successful 22-6 season. In some ways, the loss was a carbon copy of Unionville’s performance against Radnor: establish an early lead and see it eventually vanish on turnovers and ineffective shooting in the second half.
From the opening tip-off to the final buzzer, the tempo of the game seemed to be in the hands of Muhlenberg’s playmaker J’Daniel Mosquera, who engineered his club’s offense and scored all 7 of his points in the nip-and-tuck frenzy of the first quarter. Unionville’s Charlie Kammeier drained the first of his two three-pointers with 4:28 left in the quarter that gave the Longhorns a slim lead, but baskets by Mosquera and a trey by leading scorer Josh Alcantara staked the Muhls to a 10-6 lead.
Unionville held a 13-12 advantage heading into the second quarter on 5 points by Robbie Logan and a bucket by Nick Diehl with one minute left, and went into the locker room with a 29-27 halftime lead, highlighted by an off-balance three-pointer by Logan with 4:54 left in the first half that was quickly followed by a steal and layup by JT Anderson.
After a defensive battle in the third quarter limited both teams to just 10 points each, Unionville began the fourth quarter with a 39-37 lead, but the twin engines that had carried the club to a Ches-Mont American Division championship earlier this season – ball control and outside shooting – suddenly stopped functioning. After Kammeier’s early three-pointer extended Unionville’s lead to 42-37, Muhlenberg dominated the remainder of the game on the strength of a 21-4 scoring run led by Alcantara, Luis Valentin and reserve Micheal Miller, who was on the receiving end of several Longhorn turnovers and racked up 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
On the opposite end of the floor, the Longhorns, in a desperate attempt to whittle away at their growing deficit, relied on its perimeter shooters, who could not find any consistency nor much time to catch up. Muhls coach Matthew Flowers put the ball in the hands of Mosquera with three minutes left, who orchestrated a stall offense as the game clock wore down.
Supported by his five three-pointers, Alcantara led Mulhlenberg with 19 points, followed by Miller with 15 and Valentin with 12. Playing in his last high school game, Logan led Unionville with 19 points, followed by Kammeier with 12 and Diehl with 11.
With the win, Muhlenberg (19-10) will face Imhotep Charter (26-3) in the second round of the state tournament on March 14. As for the Longhorns, coach Chris Cowles’ 2023-24 team will see the return of Anderson, Diehl and Kammeier, as well as James Brenner, Ryan Brown, Zach Dolce, Jack Hyman, Mick Levendis and Jack Robbins to its roster.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected]