The Phantoms built a 16-point halftime lead and then held off the Trojans, 69-61, in a Pioneer Athletic Conference game at Strom Gymnasium. In doing so, Phoenixville (7-3 PAC-10, 8-6 overall) snapped a four-game losing skid.
"We worked harder and played our game," said Phantom junior forward Paul Lewis, who contributed nine points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. "We wanted it more basically. We got up and guarded. We played as best we could and got it done."
The Phantoms ran off a 12-0 spurt in the final 2:31 of the first half to take a 43-27 advantage at intermission against the Trojans (2-8, 3-9).
Senior guard Alex Johnson topped the Phantoms with 18 points, including one 3-point field goal, and he chipped in three steals. Ryan Thomas finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Chris Ellis also finished in double figures with 12 points and he pulled five boards.
Junior point guard Drew McCall provided eight points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds as the Phantoms recovered from an upset loss to Pottsgrove Tuesday evening. The Phantoms opened the second half of the league schedule with a victory and completed a season sweep of the Trojans following a 76-55 victory in the first game of the slate.
Pottstown provided a stiffer test this time around, and the Trojans did so without the services of their leading scorer, guard Wilson Perez, who tossed in 22 points in the first meeting. To compensate, junior guard Trai Hawkins scored a game-high 22 points for the hosts. Mike Wilson (13) and Nick Bobinsky (10) also finished in double digits for the Trojans.
Senior Mario Barber returned from a knee injury to haul in a game-high 13 rebounds. Bobinsky and Charlie Birkhead each retrieved seven boards. Birkhead also blocked a pair of shots.
"Absolutely, they were better this time," said Phoenixville coach Bill Detweiler. "We expected a tougher game. They are so athletic and so strong. Without Perez their two guards stepped up.
"We did a better job against their zone, and defensively we did a better job. We wanted to hold them under 45, but we did a better job. We did a real nice job in the first half. Then we got funky with turnovers."
Phoenixville ended up with 17 turnovers while Pottstown committed 24 miscues.
"In the end, when the going got tough, we hung tough when we could have folded but we didn't," Detweiler said. "We have the PAC-10 playoffs on our mind. We came together as a team the last few days at practice. We were splintered with egos, but tonight we were a real team. We got our stuff from the bench and we stayed together."
Phoenixville took a 19-14 lead in the first eight minutes as Johnson and Ellis each tallied seven markers. Thomas played the key role in the second period with nine points during a 24-13 stretch.
"Give credit to Pottstown," Detweiler said. "They could have packed it in at halftime, but they didn't. They started to believe. The games we won were because of our pressure defensively."
Pottstown coach Joel Alutius had a better feeling about his team.
"The effort was there," Alutius said. "I am really proud of their effort. We played together and were playing hard. We moved well and played the zone to slow them down. The first game McCall and Johnson killed us with penetration so we wanted to keep them out of the paint.
"They put us in a hole. Their pressure makes turnovers. They are good defenders."
He talked about Hawkins' showing.
"He took the team on his shoulders at the offensive end. He is a leader and did the job. People are stepping up and that's what you want young guys to do.
We are getting guys back from injuries and sickness."
Pottstown won the junior varsity game, 36-33. Marcus Smith scored 17 points for the Trojans while Tom Beasley collected 16 for the Phantoms.