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Chester County Press

Diehl’s 18 points,15 rebounds lead Unionville to 56-31 state playoff win

03/13/2024 01:46PM ● By Richard Gaw

“Unbelievable,” a song written and recorded by British band EMF and originally released as a single in the UK in October 1990, was played over the sound system during the second quarter of last Friday’s opening round District I 5A PIAA state playoff game at Unionville High School. While its’ release may vastly outdate Longhorn center Nick Diehl, it more than aptly described the senior’s stellar performance in the game.

Behind Diehl’s 18 points, 15 rebounds, three blocked shots and complete domination on both sides of the floor, Unionville soundly defeated Manheim Central, 56-31 to advance to the second round of the state playoffs on March 12 in Bethlehem, Pa., against Dallas High School, who defeated West Philadelphia, 71-61 on March 8.

In a mirror image of their resounding victory over Upper Dublin last Thursday that earned them their first district title since 1981, the Longhorns – now 24-3 overall this season -- went after their opponent with fast-break tempo in the first quarter that jumped them out to a 12-0 lead with just over three minutes remaining. After a three-pointer by Manheim Central’s Chase Brooks recorded the Barons’ first points with just over two minutes left in the quarter, a 3-poimt jumper by Charlie Kammeier extended Unionville’s lead to 15-3.

Meanwhile, Diehl was everywhere on both ends of the court. On defense, he was part of a swarming core that completely broke down Manheim Central’s ability to penetrate Unionville’s zone defense. When the Longhorns were not performing their usual “rebound-and-go” fast breaks, the senior stood at the top of the key and served as the centerpiece of the team’s offensive strategy, pivoting and passing to open shooters and cutting teammates.

“We just followed Coach [Chris] Cowles’ game plan and let the rest take care of itself,” Diehl said. “In the post season, our goal has been to come out quick, put them away early, and take the life out of them, we’ve been doing that and it’s been working in our favor.”

At the start of the second quarter, sixth man Jack Robbins punctured the Barons even more with an early 3-pointer that was quickly followed by a 3-pointer by Ryan Brown that jutted the Longhorns out to a 23-5 lead. Three follow-up rebounds by Diehl contributed another six points for Unionville, who entered the locker room with a 35-15 lead.

The game’s second half not only served as further testament of Unionville’s dominance in the game – Diehl scored another 6 points in the third quarter and was helped by 3-pointers by Brown and James Brenner – it was a swan-song farewell to the seven graduating seniors who were making their last appearances on their home floor. With 1:22 left in the game and Unionville ahead 54-29, Cowles replaced his starters with his reserves.

For the second time in two games, Cowles praised Diehl – who will be playing baseball at Tulane University next year -- for his commitment to the team.

“It’s my senior year and I’m going to play baseball in college, so this is kind of it for me,” Diehl said. “I really love the guys on the team, and I love playing for Coach Cowles and it’s that love that makes me play hard.”

In addition to Diehl’s game-high scoring effort, Unionville was led by Anderson with 12 points and Brown with 8 points. Manheim Central (20-9 overall) was led by Mason Rodgers, who nailed 3 3-pointers for 9 points. 

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