By Phil Anastasia
Conor McLaughlin has found his stride.
Not coincidentially, so has the Bishop Eustace Prep basketball team.
A junior forward, McLaughlin generated 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks as Bishop Eustace beat visiting Cherry Hill East 66-50 on Thursday night in an Olympic Conference inter-division game.
Senior guard Flo DaSilva added 12 points, five assists and three steals, and sophomore guard Mike Cohen scored all 15 of his points in the second half for Bishop Eustace (12-5), which won its fourth in a row.
"He's really stepped up," DaSilva said of McLaughlin.
Bishop Eustace's last three wins have come over Eastern, Camden and Cherry Hill East -- two of which are in The Inquirer Top 10 and another of which has spent a lot of time there.
McLaughlin has played a key role in all three victories.
"I'm just playing with a lot more confidence," said the 6-foot-5 McLaughlin, who lives in Mt. Laurel. "My shots are falling and when when they aren't, I keep attacking."
Senior guards Austin Wetzler (16 points) and Phil Cunha (15) combined to make eight three-pointers, and junior guard Jake Silpe added 10 points with six assists for No. 5 Cherry Hill East (15-3), which lost its second in a row.
"That's a good team," Cherry Hill East coach Dave Allen said of Bishop Eustace. "They have all the pieces and they're playing very well right now.
"We've hit a little tough stretch. We've come up short two games in a row."
In a game played before two enthusiastic student sections, Bishop Eustace won most of the battles on the backboards and for loose balls. The Crusaders also ran the floor, with DaSilva and McLaughlin leading the way.
"It's finally clicking," DaSilva said. "We're playing with the energy we need to play with."
Bishop Eustace coach Bob Falconiero said his team can beat any team on its schedule.
"We can lose to anybody, too," Falconiero said.
The Crusaders' recent surge has coincided with McLaughlin's improved play. The junior saw major minutes as a sophomore, and was a steady contributor earlier this season.
But he's taken his game to another level in the last couple of weeks.
"Conor is a good player," Falconiero said. "He's starting to believe he can do it. He is just starting to get to his growth as a player."
Cherry Hill East 10 8 1517 -- 50
Bishop Eustace 14 17 18 17 -- 66
CHE: Jake Silpe 10, Austin Wetzler 16, Phil Cunha 15, Tim Perry 4, Tom Smierciak 2, Josh Brown 3.
BE: Flo DaSilva 12, Mike Cohen 15, Conor McLaughlin 17, Brandon Cazan 10, Max Raiken 4, Sean Dumele 6, Jack Walter 2.
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