PHOENIXVILLE - Phoenixville’s boys find themselves in a battle for a possible Pioneer Athletic Conference playoff berth out of the Frontier Division. Every game will be pivotal from here on out until the end of the regular season.
With that in mind, the Phantoms entertained Spring-Ford in an inter-divisional contest Tuesday night.
Despite a first half in which they trailed by as nany as 11 points with poor shooting, the Phantoms used their defense to claw back into the game in the second half and finally won the outing on Marcus Howell’slast-second 3-point field goal from 25 feet away from the basket.
Howell scored a game-high 18 points, including 11 in the final period and 14 in the second half. He also had four steals and four rebounds.
Greg Hughes and DeAndre Gadsen each had eight points for the Phantoms (4-4, 7-7) while C.J. Lindsay chipped in with six.
Phoenixville shot 17-for-51 for the game, which included an 11-for-21 effort in the second half as opposed to a 6-for-30 showing in the first half. Phoenixville also found its mark at the foul line with a 10-for-13 showing as Howell finished 7-for-9 at the charity stripe.
“It was a big win and we needed a win,” said Phoenixville coach Randy Reber. “It was all done at the defensive end of the court. We got much more aggressive. The first half we shot terribly. We had a little spurt that kept us in touch. The second half we made some shots and we continued to defend.”
Hughes contributed four rebounds and three steals plus yeoman work inside against the likes of Spring-Ford’s 6-6 Zameer McDowell, 6-4 Nick Stanek and 6-5 Charlton Exley. Gadsen had five boards and two steals with six of his points coming during the third quarter when the Phantoms outscored their guest, 15-7.
Lindsay proved to be a big factor off the bench for the Phantoms with four boards, two steals and a blocked shot to go along with his six markers.
Phoenixville’s defense forced Spring-Ford into 17 turnovers, including 10 in the second half. The Phantoms took good care of the ball with just 10 turnovers in the contest.
Spring-Ford (5-3, 9-5) got 14 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks from McDowell. Stanek finished with nine boards and eight points. Drew Kakareka hit two first-period triples for six points, and Matt O’Hara bunched all six of his points in the final stanza.
The Rams shot 17-for-54 from the field and 6-for-7 at the foul line.
“I am proud of the way we played defensively,” said Reber. “We stayed in there and guarded and didn’t quit. It was the defense and then Marcus made the shot, but it was the defense. We made some shaky decisions, but we never stopped working.”
“I am happy to get it. We did a real good job on McDowell. Last year he scored 44 on us for a school record. This year we did a much better job of team defense. They were bigger, but we were quicker and got some steals so we used it to an advantage. We had a game plan and we really executed.”
Spring-Ford coach Mike Young felt the Rams let some opportunities slip away.
“We had opportunities to make some shots and build on the nice lead we had,” said Young. “Early on we were showing up by 10 and we let them make a run. We didn’t respond and then they made another run. We let them back into it.
“I wish we would get the ball inside more than we do. They did a good job of doubling and tripling, which we knew they were going to do. We struggled shooting the ball from the outside. And when you are not shooting well, you have to find another way to score.”
Spring-Ford led 15-8 after the first period and 23-16 at halftime. The Phantoms overtook them at 31-30 entering the fourth quarter.
The Rams held a 30-20 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter after a rebound hoop by McDowell. But the Phantoms went on an 11-0 run to end the quarter to take the one-point lead into the final session. Hughes made a baseline jump shot from the left side and Gadsden turned a steal into a layup. Lindsay made a pair of foul shots, and Gadsden hit a turnaround jumper from the left baseline. Gadsden tied the game at 30 with a turnaround shot inside, and then Howell made a steal that led to a free throw to give the Phantoms their first lead of the night.
Phoenixville had a 41-38 lead at the 2:17 mark on two foul shots by Howell. But McDowell hit a three-point play to forge a 41-all deadlock with 1:40 showing in regulation time.