By Phil Anastasia
Tommy Smierciak has developed into a solid player for the Cherry Hill East boys' basketball team.
He's a top strategist, too.
A senior in his first season as a regular, Smierciak bounced off the bench Thursday and generated six points and six rebounds as Cherry Hill East beat cross-town rival Cherry Hill West 51-39 in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group 4 tournament.
But his biggest contribution might have come during practice on Wednesday, when Smierciak approached coach Dave Allen about changing the starting lineup.
"It was his idea," Allen said of the decision to move junior guard Josh Brown into the starting linep and relegate Smierciak to the bench.
"I'm a senior and all I want is to get to the next round," Smierciak said. "I just want us to win."
Junior guard Jake Silpe scored 19 with nine assists and eight rebounds for top-seeded Cherry Hill East (21-7), which will host the Eastern-Rancocas Valley winner in Saturday's sectional semfinals at 2 p.m.
"He's something special," Allen said of Silpe. "He does it all for us."
Junior forward Can Oztamur scored 17 with 11 rebounds for ninth-seeded Cherry Hill West (15-13).
"They are going to be really good next year," Allen said of Chery Hill West, which has just one senior in its regular rotation.
The game between fierce rivals that split two games in the regular season was played before a large crowd that included chanting student sections from both schools.
The 6-foot-5 Smierciak, who had started every game this season, said he thought it would better to start Brown because of his ball-handling skills against Cherry Hill West's trapping defense.
Smierciak entered the game late in the first half and scored four points as the Cougars took a 21-20 lead at the break. He collected six rebounds, took a charge and score a hoop in the third quarter, as the home team broke the game open with a 14-2 surge.
"He did a great job for us," Allen said of Smierciak.
Cherry Hill West 9 11 2 17 -- 39
Cherry Hill East 10 11 14 16 -- 51
CHW: Can Oztamur 17, Danny Buckwalter 6, Elijah Bey 9, Adriel Bustinera 2, Jack Goan 3, Nick Krake 2.
CHE: Jake Silple 19, Austin Wetzler 12, Phil Cunha 3, Tim Perry 9, Tom Smierciak 6, Josh Brown 2.
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