PIAA boys preview: So. Fulton vs. Constitution
The format of most playoff brackets gives any higher seed the advantage - in the first round, at least.
The Southern Fulton boys basketball team did exactly what it was supposed to do in the first round - beat the underdog - with a 67-49 win over West Shore Christian. The Indians will return to PIAA Class A action Tuesday in the second round against another No. 1 seed which did the same thing they did in the first round.
But this time the other No. 1 seed is the two-time defending state champion, Constitution. The game is at 7:30 p.m. at Central Dauphin East H.S.
The Generals (17-11) are the District 12 Class A champion out of Philadelphia, and punched their ticket to the second round with a 64-39 win over Lancaster County Christian, the third-place team from District 3.
While Constitution has a host of talented players, Southern Fulton (22-5) may have the ability to capitalize on the General's inexperience this year. Constitution returned just one starter from the state championship team, having to fill a huge void in the team's three most offensively dominant players last year.
But that doesn't mean the new additions can't hold their own. Tamir Green dropped in 26 points in the General's first-round victory, while Maurice Waters added 10 points off the bench. But while Green and Waters were the only Generals to score in double figures in the first-round contest, two others flirted with double-doubles, dominating defensively.
"Obviously they are a good team for a reason, and we are going to have to make sure we protect and do things the right way," Southern Fulton coach Kent Hendershot said. "We have to put the game in phases and give ourselves a chance in the last phase."
Green will be the Indians' biggest problem Tuesday, even though he measures 5-foot-8, an inch shorter than Southern Fulton's shortest starter.
But the Indians must be wary of the size Constitution can bring to the court. While the Generals do not start their tallest players, they have two 6-8 bench players, and a handful of 6-5 position players.
"It looks like they are starting some of their smaller players, and I feel like we match up very well," Hendershot said. "The athleticism that they have, we have to combat with our execution."
Southern Fulton can bring some heat of its own, with two of the area's top scorers in Dylan Gordon and Trent Rider. Gordon averages 17 points per game, while Rider averages 15.9 and is just 25 points away from 1,000 for his career. Rider came out of the woodwork in the Indians' first round game, scoring 27 points.
"Obviously, we have to play a very fundamentally sound game," Hendershot said. "Teams thrive on turning you over and getting layups, so if you don't handle the ball it can go south really quick. We have to rely on what we taught all year long. There's no in between - we are going to play well and be in the game, or not, and lose and go home. We've planted those seeds and they've grown; now it's about how they execute."
Indians-Generals at a glance
Game data: 5-1 Southern Fulton vs. 12-1 Constitution ... Tuesday at CD East High School, 7:30 p.m.. PIAA second-round game.
Media: Follow @LiziArbogast on Twitter for updates.
Teams: Southern Fulton, 22-5, is running hot off a 67-49 win over West Shore Christian in the first round ... Constitution (17-11) is the District 12 champion, with momentum of its own after a 64-39 first-round victory over Lancaster County Christian.
P.O. pick: Constitution by 4.