Red Raiders hand Patriots first loss, grab Ches-Mont championship
By Kyle Carrozza, Staff Writer, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH – In a close game, scoring can mean more than just points. Clutch baskets can change the momentum of a game as well as the atmosphere of the gym.
A couple of big plays allowed Coatesville’s boys basketball team to take control of the momentum and beat Great Valley 51-46 for the Ches-Mont title Tuesday night at Unionville High School.
A close matchup for the entire game, consecutive steals converted into points gave the Red Raiders a fourth quarter lead and the impetus to go on and earn the win.
Coatesville controlled the game in early proceedings, jumping out to a 9-2 lead over their undefeated opponents. The game was a physical one from the start, with the referees keeping their whistles in their pockets on contact that would usually send shooters to the foul line.
“It’s fun when refs let us play,” said senior guard Chris Jones. “They don’t call the contact fouls, and they just let both teams go.”
In the second quarter, one had to think that the sleeping giant that was the 22-0 Patriot team had awoken. More than any other opponents this year, Great Valley was able to drive on the Red Raiders. The teams looked evenly matched in athleticism, and the Patriots had the size advantage. A string of missed shots by Coatesville allowed Valley to take the lead. With the Red Raiders only able to score one point in the four minutes leading up to halftime, the Patriots took a 20-15 lead into the break.
“We knew we had to do the same thing [as the first half],” said senior guard Joey Lewis, “come out strong. We let them catch the ball 40 feet out, and we just played our defense from there.”
The tension of the sold out gym only heightened when the teams returned to the court for the second half. Raucous crowds on both sides combined with wide open game to create a pulse of energy on every big play. Coatesville rode the energy well.
When Great Valley got the ball to open the half, the Red Raiders applied the full court press. A floated pass allowed senior Emmett Hunt to grab the steal and find senior guard Dre Boggs for two. Some good defending, most notably Boggs’s emphatic block of a layup, allowed Coatesville to take a 23-22 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We knew they had a smart enough offense that if we reached, they would back door us,” said Jones. “We had to matchup with them and just play solid D.”
But once again, Valley had an answer. With a three point play followed by a three point shot, the Patriots took the lead back. A dunk late in the quarter threatened to allow them to control the game, but Jones responded immediately. Driving down the baseline, he hit the reverse layup for two plus a foul. Great Valley had a 30-27 lead going into the final period, but it would not last long.
On the first possession of the quarter, Hunt produced his own three point play to tie the game. Valley scored one at the other end, giving them a 31-30 advantage. But a couple of big plays that meant so much more than the four points they were worth gave Coatesville the lead and momentum back.
After being called for a travel, the Red Raiders once again applied the full court press. They came up with another steal, this time senior Leroy Hoggard grabbing the ball and laying up for two. Another inbound was met with another press—and another steal. Dre Boggs got the ball near half court and beat everyone else down the floor. His emphatic dunk caused made teammates and fans alike jump from their seats. The Coatesville stands erupted, and though only three points separated the teams, the 34-31 seemed like an impossible deficit for the Patriots to overcome.
“That was a big momentum changer,” said Lewis.
“The crowd helped us out a lot,” agreed Jones. “They got into it; we want to play in an atmosphere like that every night.”
Jones helped make sure momentum stayed on his team’s side, hitting a three on the next possession and scoring on the two after that. Jones finished the night with 14 points, nine of them coming in the fourth quarter.
For the remainder of the game, no matter what Valley did, Coatesville had an answer. The Red Raiders scored on every possession they had in the final period. The unstoppable offense forced the Patriots to foul as the game came to a close. Solid free throw shooting maintained Coatesville’s lead on their way to a Ches-Mont Championship.
“We played hard. We have heart,” said Lewis. “Even when we’re not the biggest or fastest team, nobody in the state can match our heart.”
On paper, the 18-6 Coatesville team looked good but outmatched by undefeated Great Valley. But on paper, Boggs’s dunk was only two points, and there is no accounting for a sold out gym and the mental toughness of this Coatesville side.
Dre Boggs – 16
Chris Jones – 14
Emmett Hunt – 11
Jaquan Hollingshed – 6
Leroy Hoggard – 4