Trey Shifflett scored 25 points as the Bearcats picked up their third-straight win. Brandon Stoneburg
When D'Andre Davis and Melik Martin traded in their William Penn blue and orange for York Catholic green and gold, both teams circled Saturday's reunion matchup on the calendar.
The anticipation for their return to William Penn months after transferring schools was amplified even more this week when York Catholic provided the Bearcats (10-6, 6-2 YAIAA Division I) some "locker room material," according to Bearcats head coach Troy Sowers.
Sowers' squad turned in its best offensive performance of the season to spoil Davis and Martin's homecoming, 93-72, in a game that was chippy from start to finish.
"We were just so amped up from the start of the game with all the locker room material we had from their players and coaches," Sowers said. "I think we just had to tone it down and play good basketball in the second half. But our guys are good. We play basketball. Our eyes are on (league) and district titles. ...We weren't going to let this be a one-game season. They may have wanted to make it a one-game season, but our eyes are on bigger and better things. We're focused on playing good basketball and beating the team in front of us."
Less than a minute into the game, the referees had to stop play and warn both teams, and both squads played through hard fouls and trash talk throughout the game. But for a moment, it seemed that York Catholic (11-4, 10-0 YAIAA Division III) might finally get the better of its public school peers after losing by at least 25 points the last three years. The Fighting Irish took a 40-36 lead into the half despite Martin sitting on the bench with foul trouble. Kyle Derowski scored 10 in the first half, and Andrew Forjan chipped in with nine.
"I think we were a little laid back in the first half and not playing how we've been playing lately," Bearcats senior Kristopher Johnson said. "We went into the locker room and stayed calm. We always stress it's a 32-minute game, and in the second half we played much better. Ball movement truly works, and our guys are starting to buy into that."
William Penn, who came into Saturday with the second-best offense in the league just ahead of York Catholic, scored 33 points in the third quarter, then 24 more in the fourth. Five Bearcats finished with at least 13 points, led by Trey Shifflett with 25. Jacquez Casiano and Johnson each scored 16, while Montrel Morgan added 15 and Elliott Wilson contributed 13 off the bench. As a team, the Bearcats made 37 field goals and connected on all 15 of their free throw attempts. The Bearcat faithful grew louder as the William Penn lead ballooned from one to 13 thanks to a 14-2 run to end the quarter.
"They're used to this atmosphere and this type of game," York Catholic head coach Blaine Claiborne said of the Bearcats. "And we're just not. We just don't get that level of competition. And it's not physical, it's mental ... I love my guys. We played hard, and we played well. It's just tough. This is Division I, and we're Division III. We have to be able to step up."
The Bearcats pulled away more in the fourth, capped by a Johnson dunk in the closing seconds.
"We knew those guys before they transferred so we knew what kind of game this was going to be," Johnson said of playing Davis and Martin. "We knew it was going to be chippy, but we tried to keep our composure. We allowed those guys to just keep talking to us, and we take our anger out on the court."
York Catholic (72)
Melik Martin 6 2-2 14, D'Andre Davis 4 3-6 12, Andrew Forjan 4 2-2 12, Kyle Derowski 4 2-2 10, Steven Nigro 7 0-0 14, Echevaria 2 0-0 4, Bauhof 2 0-0 4, Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals — 30 9-12 72.
William Penn (93)
Trey Shifflett 11 0-0 25, Jacquez Casiano 5 6-6 16, Kristopher Johnson 6 3-3 16, Montrel Morgan 6 3-3 15, Elliott Wilson 6 1-1 13, Drayden 2 0-0 4, Gallon, Jr. 0 2-2 2, Iturmendi 1 0-0 2. Totals — 37 15-15 93.
York Catholic _ 19_ 21_ 16_ 16_ — _ 72
William Penn _ 23_ 13 _ 33 _ 24 _ — _ 93
3-point goals — YC 3 (Forjan 2, Davis), WP 4 (Shifflett 3, Johnson).