March 6, 2010

No. 61 Penn Wood wins district crown

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It came down to overtime - and a sloppy end to regulation - but Lansdowne (Pa.) Penn Wood, got what it wanted - the District 1 title.

Penn Wood, the defending state champions and ranked No. 61 in the most recent RivalsHigh Top 100 boys basketball rankings, knocked off No. 32 Plymouth Meeting (Pa.) Plymouth Whitemarsh, 54-49, on Friday night.

The win pushed Penn Wood to 23-3 on the season and, more importantly, gives the Patriots the district's top seed and keeps them in the eastern bracket heading into the state tournament.

Because of the loss, Plymouth Whitemarsh (25-2) will be shuffled over to the western bracket, meaning a playoff schedule with longer road trips.

It does, however, set up the possibility of a rematch for the state title, assuming both teams can navigate the always unpredictable state tournament.

Penn Wood guard Aaron Brown led the victors with 20 points - six of which came in the overtime period where he was perfect from both the foul line (2-for-2) and the field (2-for-2).

"We wanted to come and make a statement," Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think we've been overshadowed. We're the defending state champs, and we wanted to come out and make a mark. And we're still here. We're still the champs."

But the road to the district championship was far from easy.

According to the Inquirer, the final seconds of regulation were marred by sloppy play - and rather unusual calls.

The game was tied, 41-41, with under 10 seconds to play, when Plymouth Whitemarsh's Whis Grant was called for palming the ball. With less than five seconds remaining, Penn Wood's Will Brown managed to drive the floor and get a shot off, but it rimmed out. Teammate Shawn Oakman went to tip the ball back in, but was called for goaltending.

Penn Wood didn't take its first lead in the game until the third quarter, where Will Brown scored eight of his 11 points. Senior guard and Hartford commit Tyree Johnson had 16 points.

Plymouth Whitemarsh was led by Grant's 23 points. The Colonials two big men, St. Joseph's recruit C.J. Aiken and Jaylen Bond, were held to just 10 and seven points respectively.

And Penn Wood got the championship that eluded them last season. Despite winning the state title, the Patriots lost in last year's District 1 championship game - to lower-seed Norristown. Friday night's win was the first district title for the school since 1992.

"We were here last year, so we knew what it took to win this game tonight," Johnson told the Inquirer. "We take everything as a challenge, so playing against a team they have ranked higher than us, that kind of hit us. So we took it personal."

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