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PHOENIXVILLE - The defense appeared ahead of the offense as Phoenixville split its first two games of the season in the George Rocco Tip-Off Classic last Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8.
The Phantoms won their opener against Fleetwood, 55-46, before bowing to North Penn in the championship contest, 58-52.
Head coach Randy Reber felt the Phantoms did not shoot well from the floor either night, which was a surprise to him for a good shooting ballclub.
In the opener, Phoenixville trailed 26-25 at halftime but outscored Fleetwood 30-20 in the second half.
Sophomore forward DeAndre Gadsden scored 11 of his 18 points during the first half. He posted a double-double with 10 rebounds and also had three steals and a blocked shot. Gadsden made one trey and shot 7-for-9 at the free throw line.
Senior guard Marcus Howell scored 14 of his 19 points during the second half. Howell buried two 3-point field goals and shot 5-for-5 at the foul line with six steals and four boards. Senior forward C.J. Lindsay grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with eight points, three steals and one block.
Reber liked the defensive work of Gadsden, Lindsay and Greg Hughes against Tigers big man Kyle Flannery, who finished with a team-high 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Phantoms’ Eric Wallace had five points with one triple, two foul shots and two blocks. Ian Harrigan made three steals off the bench.
Phoenixville shot 21-for-26 at the foul line for the game, a high accuracy that pleased Reber. Victor Bozzelli hit two free throws late in the game when the Phantoms were protecting their lead and the basketball.
Gadsden and Howell each scored 11 points while Wallace added 10 with two treys.
North Penn took a 13-8 lead at the end of the first period. The Knights extended their lead to 28-20 by halftime and 39-30 after three quarters.
The Phantoms overtook the Knights for a 50-49 edge with 2:52 showing in the fourth and were up again 52-51 with 1:27 left. But North Penn scored the final seven points of the contest to seal the verdict.
North Penn’s Stefan Brown was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Brown tallied 14 points in the title game.
“We battled them and chased them around,” said Reber.
North Penn jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the outset of the title game, but the Phantoms fought back well.
“We just can’t get off to those kinds of starts,” said Reber. “But I can’t fault the effort. We were down by 12 or 13 points and we battled back.”