A pessimistic person might look at William Penn's 2015-2016 basketball resume and point out that at 7-5 overall, the Bearcats are off to one of their worst starts in the past decade.
An optimist might counter that the Bearcats play one of the toughest schedules in District 3 and boast wins over Northeastern, Williamsport and West York already. And their five losses have come to YAIAA foe Spring Grove and nonconference powerhouses Chester, Reading, Lower Merion and then a 58-47 loss to Coatesville at home Saturday night.
The Bearcats led by double digits in the first half, but shot 5-for-24 in the second half and watched their lead slowly slip away to the Red Raiders, who came in ranked among the best AAAA teams in the state.
"Any one in York County could be 7-5 with the schedule that we have or 6-6," William Penn head coach Troy Sowers said of the tough schedule. "I don't think any one in District 3 plays the schedule that we do. Now we get another tough team in Central on Tuesday...We just have to be mentally tough. The competition level has been extremely difficult for us, and right now it seems like we're good enough to play close with very good teams but we can't get over the hump. That's something we have to work on."
The key difference was the third quarter. While the Bearcats struggled from the floor, scoring just eight points, the Red Raiders finally found a rhythm and turned a five-point halftime deficit into a two-point lead heading into the fourth. Using a 12-3 run, Coatesville extended the lead to 42-34 early in the fourth. After Trey Shifflett cut the lead to 42-40 with a 3-pointer, Coatesville's Rome Boyer, who finished with a game-high 19 points, responded with a 3-pointer from the corner, and the Red Raiders knocked down nine free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
"We just stood around and watched other guys do too much one-on-one basketball," Sowers said of the second half. "You have to make good decisions against them, and we didn't. We just put our heads down and tried to score over guys who are 6-foot-6, and it didn't work."
William Penn started the game on a 10-0 run and led by double digits midway through the second quarter before being hampered by cold shooting and a lack of ball movement. Montrel Morgan, who put on a clinic in the first half scoring 10 points from inside, outside and at the line, was held to three second-half points.
"We started to overthink the game in the first half," Coatesville head coach Chuck Moore said. "We went back to man-to-man defense, gave a motivational speech at halftime and came back out and played Coatesville basketball."
Despite the loss, the Bearcats are 4-1 in league play and still have a chance to three-peat as district champs.
"We're hurting a little bit right now because we haven't been 7-5 through 12 games in eight or nine years," Sowers said. "Typically we'll lose four or five in the whole season. So we said we'll take on the mentality that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Rome Boyer 5 7-8 19, Justus Martinez 4 2-4 10, Hagan 4 0-2 9, Donovan 2 2-2 7, Parker-Turner 1 1-2 3, Brickus 1 1-1 3, Young 1 1-2 3, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Bladen 1 0-0 2. Totals — 20 14-21 58.
William Penn (47)
Montrel Morgan 4 5-7 13, Kristopher Johnson 4 4-6 12, Shifflett 3 2-4 9, Casiano 3 1-2 8, Iturmendi 1 2-2 4, Drayden 0 1-2 1, Wilson 0 0-2 0. Totals — 15 15-25 47.
Coatesville _ 6 _ 15 _ 15 _ 22 _ — _ 58
William Penn _15 _ 11 _ 8 _ 13 _ — _ 47
3-point goals — CO 4 (Boyer 2, Donovan, Hagan), WP 2 (Shifflett, Casiano).