Reactions from William Penn-Hempfield
HERSHEY -- Coming into Tuesday night's District 3 semifinal, it was hard to know exactly how good Hempfield was.
Sure, the Black Knights' 26-0 record spoke volumes. They had some impressive victories -- three against a solid Penn Manor team, one against West York, one against Pocono Mountain East, among others.
But how would Hempfield fare as it moved further into the playoffs, and encountered a team with the speed and athleticism of a William Penn?
The Black Knights' response Tuesday was deafening. Hempfield simply looked a rung above the Bearcats on this night, showing the poise and cohesiveness befitting a group of five senior starters. Every new wrinkle the Bearcats through at them, every new wave of pressure, the Black Knights had an answer.
Put simply: This team is legit.
What was most astounding was the amount of easy buckets Hempfield got. Eighteen of their 20 field goals came from inside the paint. Big men Mike Uehlein and Taylor McDuffie were a big reason for that stat, but so was Hempfield's ability to use its press break to create baskets. As William Penn continued to stretch out and trap (because it was trailing, and had to take chances to try and get back into the game), the Black Knights were able to work the ball down low.
In other words, Hempfield clearly had a great game plan and a staple of well-designed plays it was comfortable executing.
"Their game plan to attacking a full-court press was great," William Penn coach Troy Sowers said. "Some teams when you put pressure on kind of fold, but they passed the ball well and made us pay with their bigs down low."
William Penn, meanwhile, settled for too man jump shots, and never seemed to find its rhythm. The Bearcats first bucket of the game was a 3-pointer. After that, William Penn missed its last 16 3-point attempts.
So what now for William Penn? Recall, they finished runner-up in the district tournament last year before embarking on their epic state title run. Another such performance will be tough to duplicate, but this team does have talent. First, the Bearcats will face a third-place game with No. 2 Wilson (which looked less than stellar in a forgettable, 34-33 semifinal loss to Reading on Tuesday). A win would no doubt send William Penn into the state playoffs with some good vibes.
Fourth quarter calls
A pair of big fourth-quarter calls went against the Bearcats.
First, Kelvin Parker was hit with a charge on a converted floater with 4:12 left in the fourth quarter. The nearest official appeared to signal a good bucket, but then changed the call to a charge. A basket and free throw would have cut Hempfield's lead to five.
A few seconds later, Malcolm Murray was called for a block when Hempfield forward Uehlein made contact with Murray while attacking the rim. Sowers jumped off the bench, and was hit for a technical for that display of emotion. Hempfield hit the ensuing four free throws extend its lead to 12.
I won't comment on whether the calls were right or not -- I'm not an official, I don't feel its may place to pass judgment on such things. Both were borderline calls -- I don't envy the officials for having to make them. Those two whistles go William Penn's way, the Bearcats would have been down five, with the ball, with 3:49 to play. Maybe the result is still the same. Maybe it's not. Who knows. Regardless, I think anybody who saw the game would admit Hempfield was the better team on this night.
Sowers said the explanation given by the official who called the tech was that Sowers was penalized for his jumping in the air after the call -- not for anything he said or for leaving the designated coaches box. The call was the first technical foul given to Sowers during his four-year tenure as William Penn coach.
Matthews nets 1,000
William Penn senior Ryan Matthews scored his 1,000th career point during Tuesday night's loss. He secured the milestone on his second of two free throws with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
"It means a lot," Matthews said, adding he hoped his 1,000th point would come in a victory. "Going into the season, me and coach talked about it. I told him I'm going to work for my 1,000th point. I'm not going to take crazy shots, and be selfish. ... I just worked hard with my teammates."
Matthews scored 12 points for the Bearcats. Jevaughn Murphy scored a team-high 14 points.