FORT WASHINGTON >> The Plymouth Whitemarsh boys' basketball team got hot near the end of the first half and carried the momentum through the entire third and fourth quarters to knock off Northeastern, 71-46, in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs at Upper Dublin High School Saturday afternoon.
They didn't need it often, but whenever the Colonials needed a spark, their two senior guards came through.
The teams were tied at 21 late in the second quarter. PW's Jimmy Murray hit a 3-pointer, and Andre Mitchell hit another the next trip down the floor. Northeastern sank a basket before the whistle to make it a 27-23 contest at the half.
"It was two quick big buckets — two 3's at that — get you a quick six-point lead," Murray said.
The Colonials came out of the break with a 7-0 run, keyed by a no-look assist and 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions by Xzavier Malone.
PW's lead ballooned to 15 by the middle of the third, but the Bobcats still had some fight left.
Late in the quarter, Kobi Nwandu made a basket and Donovian Maxfield hit a shot from beyond the arc to cut the lead to 10.
Then PW's senior guards showed up again.
Murray and Mitchell both made 3's — Mitchell's coming as time expired — to extend the lead to 16 and make a comeback look that much more difficult for the Bobcats.
A pair of highlight-reel one-handed dunks from Malone and 12-of-16 free-throw shooting — 9-of-10 by Devon Monteiro-Gray — was enough in the fourth for Plymouth Whitemarsh to cruise to a 25-point win.
Malone scored a game-high 20 points, Mitchell 17 and Murray added 13. Monteiro-Gray tallied a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
"Devon Monteiro-Gray has been hobbled by a pulled groin for about two weeks now and it seems to have turned the corner to recovery," head coach Jim Donofrio said. "What a difference — what a pop in his step. Some tips ins, some offensive boards, foul-shooting. My goodness."
The Bobcats were never able to get into a rhythm on offense, couldn't score the easy points when they had opportunities and went 5-of-10 from the free-throw line.
"They made plays, and we didn't," Bobcats head coach Jon Eyster said. "Even in the first half, we missed a lot of inside shots, we missed free throws and they got on a roll starting the second half. They converted, and we didn't. You get to this point in time you can't miss freebies, you can't miss inside shots, you can't miss free throws because everybody is good."
Nwandu led Northeastern in scoring with 14 points, and Maxfield and DeAireus Brown each added 11.
Plymouth Whitemarsh will play Wednesday against Pennridge in the second round of the state tournament.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 71, Northeastern 46
Coleman 1 0-0 2, Nwandu 5 3-4 14, Maxfield 4 0-0 11, Josey 1 0-0 2, Reynolds 1 0-3 2, Brown 5 0-1 11, Mulbah 0 2-2 2, Hoffman 1 0-0 2.
Total — 18 5-10 46
Plymouth Whitemarsh (71)
Minick 1 0-0 3, Malone 7 5-7 20, Murray 4 3-3 13, Monteiro-Gray 4 9-10 17, Johnson 0 1-2 1, Mitchell 5 4-8 17.
Total — 21 22-30 71.
3-point goals — Ne: Nwandu, Maxfield 3, Brown. PW: Minick, Malone, Murray 2, Mitchell 3.