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Chester County Press

Longhorns win District 5A crown with 63-36 trouncing of Upper Dublin

03/01/2024 11:32AM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw           Unionville’s Ryan Brown, center, displays the PIAA District One 5A championship trophy after his 24 points helped lead the Longhorns to a 63-36 victory over Upper Dublin on Feb. 29 at West Chester University’s Hollinger Field House.


By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

When in the face of chaos, the intangible ability to manifest control is what makes champions.

Before an overflow crowd of 2,500 at the Hollinger Field House at West Chester University on Feb. 29, the Unionville varsity boys’ basketball team overcame a four-quarter scrum of fouls and floor burns to capture the PIAA District One 5A championship with a dominant 63-36 victory over Upper Dublin.  

It was the first title for the boys’ basketball program since 1981.

As the number 1 seed in the tournament, Unionville came into the game at 22-3, having defeated Upper Moreland and Phoenixville in the early rounds, only to face off against the Flying Cardinals, who entered the championship bout as the number 2 seed and the same 22-3 record. What on paper had been predicted to be a battle of two teams who had both earned the right to play for a title, however, became a mostly one-sided contest, dominated by Unionville’s outside shooting and a defense that shut down Upper Dublin’s top scorers.

After a jumper by Kobe Basemore gave Upper Dublin a quick 2-0 lead, Unionville sprang into action with three-pointers by James Anderson and Charlie Kammeier. Following a 30-second time out by Unionville Head Coach Chris Cowles, the Longhorns held a slim lead in the closing seconds of the first quarter when a buzzer-beating floater in the lane by Ryan Brown gave Unionville a 17-10 advantage heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter may have been highlighted by an early Kammeier 3-pointer and a driving layup by Anderson with 6:27 that saw the Longhorns jump out to a 24-10 lead, but it also saw the emergence of Unionville big man Nick Diehl. The 6’ 6” center began to rip down rebounds while holding Upper Dublin scorer Idris Rines to two free throws, in a quarter that saw the Flying Cardinals go scoreless for nearly a 6-minute stretch.

“He’s become present, invested and committed,” Cowles said of Diehl, who will be attending Tulane University this fall on a baseball scholarship. “From my perspective, I can’t be more grateful for him placing this team as a priority.”

Sporting a 32-17 lead at the start of the second half, Unionville saw a revamped and aggressive Upper Dublin defense force them into mistakes, and while the Longhorns were limited to just 7 points in the third quarter, their defense continued to shut down their opponent, holding the Flying Cardinals to just 3 points.

Carrying a 19-point lead into the last quarter, the Longhorns put an exclamation point on their victory with a 24-point outburst that saw Brown score 14 points, including 3 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 24 points. He was helped in the scoring column with 12 points apiece from Anderson and Diehl. Upper Dublin was led by Ryan Mulroy with 11 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter.

As his players celebrated with the hundreds of Unionville students who had attended the game, Cowles gave appreciation to his coaches and his team.

“I am happy for us, but I am especially happy for my staff,” he said. “Eddie Anderson is a head coach and we are fortunate enough to have him as an assistant, and Matt Porecca and Justin Martin are unbelievable, not just with the Xs and Os, but in their relationships with our players.

“It sounds so boring, but I continually tell the team, ‘If you’re disciplined, we’re going to have fun.’ Before the game, I told them that basketball-wise, Unionville has been good for the past seven years, but not much before that. I told them that discipline breeds legends, and they became legendary because they helped their school win a title for the first time since 1981.”

With the District One championship trophy now in their possession, Unionville will host the first round of the PIAA state tournament on March 8 at 7 p.m., when they face off against Manheim Central. The PIAA state championships will take place at the Giant Center, a 10,500-seat arena in Hershey, Pa., on March 21-23.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].