As the basketball team hits the home stretch these next three weeks, the focus is on elongating a season and defining its success with post-season opportunities. The Warriors have their eye on the Ches-Mont Final Four and the District I Tournament but there is no margin for error at this late date.
That’s why Tuesday night’s 63-61 homecourt victory over Bishop Shanahan was one of those welcome cases of survival and relief. It could have gone the other way and that would have been a loss that had consequences.
“We can’t afford to lose any more games,” offered Henderson coach Chris Bruno after his team moved to 6-2 with the Ches-Mont National Division win and 11-6 overall. “When we needed a stop we got the stop. A win is a win.”
The Warriors don’t have any bad losses and they’ve put all of the tight finishes into the win column with Tuesday night the latest example of how the McCormick twins deliver when a hard-fought game is on the line in the deciding moments. Jason McCormick continued his clutch free throw shooting with a pair that pushed Henderson’s lead to five with 1:34 remaining. Chas McCormick then converted on a fast break to make the margin seven as the game moved into its final minute.
That margin was much needed when Shanahan responded with a corner three from Ryan Conrad and a three-point play from center Dae’mond Pierce, pulling the Eagles to within 62-61 with 47 seconds remaining. Henderson killed all but 11.7 seconds before committing a backcourt violation, giving Shanahan possession with plenty of time to pull off an upset at the buzzer with an offensive attack that had plenty of success throughout the evening.
The frenetic final sequence ended with a Chas McCormick steal at :01.6 and his free throw accounted for the final margin.
“We have to learn to focus from the opening tip to the finish,” added Bruno, whose team couldn’t hang on to a 13-point second quarter lead or a 10-point third quarter advantage. “Give credit to Shanahan. They’re tough and they can shoot the three.”
Devon Seeney was the visitors’ big gun with buzzer beating shots at the half and at the end of the third period to keep Shanahan close. The Eagles consistently got the ball in the low post to Pierce and he responded with 23 points. Seeney ended up with a game-high 24, including an inside three-point play that gave Shanahan a one-point lead late in the third.
Henderson’s P.J. Costello hit a three from deep to get the lead back and the McCormicks did just enough to keep Shanahan at bay the rest of the way.
Henderson is adjusting to the loss of senior center T.J. White, the standout football player who committed to Villanova late last week. He is lost for the season with a nagging back injury, leaving the inside work to junior Declan Kane, who responded with 11 rebounds and battled Pierce down low throughout.
David Goodman had four blocks, four assists and 10 rebounds for the Warriors, who continue with Ches-Mont National Division play Thursday night at Downingtown East. If they can win all of their final five games, the Warriors will make the Ches-Mont Final Four and improve their seeding in the District I tournament. The biggest of those games is the Downingtown West home contest on February 7 at 7:30 p.m.
In the junior varsity prelim, Henderson triumphed, 46-45, behind 16 points from Colin Costello, 12 from Mark DiMatteo and 11 from Luke Weaver. Emile Jarrett scored 15 points and Scott Seifert eight for Shanahan.