PHOENIXVILLE - Methacton’s undefeated boys basketball team found itself on the short end of an 18-3 score at the outset of Tuesday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference game against Phoenixville.
The Warriors, though, maintained their poise and put their game together the rest of the way to take a 72-60 victory back to Fairview Village.
Methacton sizzled from downtown shooting range during the middle two periods to make up the deficit and create its own lead against the Phantoms.
Brendan Casper scored 24 points and Matt Forrest tallied 18 for the Liberty Division-leading Warriors (6-0, 11-1). Methacton made eight 3-point field goals on the night with three apiece by Forrest and Joe Ruhl.
Greg Hughes fired home a career-high and game-high 26 points for the Frontier Division Phantoms (3-3, 5-6). Marcus Howell and Eric Wallace added 10 points apiece. The Phantoms drilled five treys with three by Hughes.
“They (Phantoms) came out with a ton of energy,” said Methacton coach Jeff Derstine. “They have been playing well and they are confident. They hit us pretty hard to start the game.”
Phoenixville shot 8-for-10 from the floor in the opening stanza in taking an 18-8 lead after one quarter. Wallace had six points in the first eight minutes and Hughes and Howell each finished with five and Victor Bozzelli two in the period.
The Warriors outscored the Phantoms 24-17 in the second period to assume a 35-32 edge at the break.
“It was 18-3,” said Derstine. “I told our guys I was proud of the way they didn’t roll over. That’s the experience we have. Our players didn’t quit and we kept fighting.”
Ruhl ended the contest with nine points with three third-quarter triples while Anthony O’Brien, Justin Ardman and Sean Mann each chipped in with seven. Derstine also applauded the play of junior forward Dillon Alderfer off the bench for his hustle plays and defense.
“He gave us a spark with hustle plays and he came up with some defensive plays,” said Derstine. “Forrest hit some real big shots to bring us back, and in the third quarter Joe Ruhl hit some big ones against their zone when we spread out the defense. They did a good job of making Casper work.
“The guys are playing well. They have bought into what we are trying to do. The biggest thing I am proud of is how we bounced back and hung in there. They hit us hard in the beginning, but we fought back into it.”
Ardman grabbed 10 rebounds for the Warriors, who shot 26-for-57 from the floor and 12-for-18 at the foul line.
They outrebounded the Phantoms, 36-24.
DeAndre Gadsden pulled down seven boards for the Phantoms while Howell had five. Phoenixville shot 23-for-47 from the field and 9-for-12 at the foul line.
Hughes, who scored 14 first-half markers, drilled eight field goals and shot a perfect 7-for-7 at the foul line. He also had five rebounds while helping defend against the 6-foot-5 Casper inside.
“Greg Hughes met a challenge,” said Phoenixville coach Randy Reber. “He played an outstanding game at both ends of the court. He played hard against a quality big man and he hustled up and down the court.”
Reber said the Phantoms have to learn to keep their defensive intensity up when their shots are not falling at the other end of the floor.
“You have to play just as hard when you miss shots as when you make them,” said Reber. “We had too many defensive breakdowns when we were out of position. And the three threes Ruihl hit in the third quarter hurt. We can’t take everything away when you are playing with our size. Their complementary players hurt us, too. We got down and then we got away from what we wanted to do.”
The game was knotted at 35, 41 and 44 during the third quarter before Ardman made a move inside for a basket at the 3:15 mark, followed by a trey from the right wing by Ruhl at 2:22 and an inside move by Casper to end the session with a 51-44 lead.