Lower Merion falls to Reading in Kobe Bryant/Rally Classic

By Pat Leonard
Reading 52, Lower Merion 41

Lower Merion senior guard Alon Seltzer made five three-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points Saturday, but Reading senior guard Trenity Burdine had 12 of his 16 points in the second half, and the out-of-town Red Knights (15-2) prevailed at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor.

Reading won the fourth of six games today at the 11th annual Kobe Bryant/Philly.com/Rally Classic. The showcase concludes with five more games Sunday at Widener University in Chester.

The Aces (10-5) led 23-19 at the half, despite being outrebounded 14-5 in the first 16 minutes. But Reading smothered Lower Merion to only five third quarter points. Then Burdine, a Siena University recruit, reversed Reading’s fortunes for good with two big three-pointers.

His first three tied the game at 25 with 1:39 to play in the third quarter. And the play of the game was his buzzer-beater from two steps in front of half court that gave the Red Knights a 31-28 lead they would never relinquish.

This was not a heave shot from deep; Burdine rose straight up and sank it like he shooting from the foul line.

Reading senior guard Yamil Echavarria (12 points) and 6-foot-6 senior forward Kahlil Valasquez (10 points, seven rebounds) played large roles in the Red Knights’ comeback.

Lower Merion junior guard Matt McKenna added nine points for the Aces, but Reading’s athleticism and pressure were too much – Lower Merion was 0-for-2 from the free throw line for the game.


Holy Ghost 36, Pennsbury 33

Pennsbury senior guard Jesse Krasna stole the ball with 20 seconds to go and his Falcons down by three, but his three-point attempt with five seconds rimmed out, and Holy Ghost Prep (14-3) held on for the win.

Holy Ghost junior guard Tyler Juchno scored a team-high nine points, including five in the third quarter. The Firebirds recorded eight offensive rebounds in the second half and held Pennsbury (9-6) to 30 percent field goal shooting.

“We had the three worst practices of our lives this week, and they were all on defense,” Juchno said. “Teams don’t think we can play defense, and they don’t think we’re tough. But we proved today that we are tough, and we can play defense.”

Both teams’ coaches felt the Falcons had open looks but their shots from deep just didn’t fall.

“We got a lot of open shots,” Pennsbury coach Frank Sciolla said. “But we’re not the biggest group, so we play a lot around the perimeter. We would like to get to the basket, but I think their size was effective. They got us on the offensive backboard.”

Pennsbury made 7-of-31 shots from behind the arc (22.5 percent) and 12-of-39 field goals overall.

“We probably should have done a better job getting the ball inside and not settling for threes, especially because they weren’t falling,” said Krasna, who finished with 10 points and two 3-point baskets. “But Holy Ghost did a real good job of keeping us out of the paint.”

Holy Ghost senior forward Duffy Barrett added seven points. Senior guard Mike Byrne and senior forward Owen Kirby had six points apiece.

The Firebirds led 14-5 after the first quarter, but Pennsbury closed the lead with some defense of its own, as none of the Firebirds’ seven scorers reached double figures.

Falcons sophomore guard Kieran Bolger led all scorers with 11 points and three 3-pointers, but Barrett had three points in the fourth quarter and Ghost held on late.

“Pennsbury didn’t shoot particularly well, and we were fortunate,” Holy Ghost coach Tony Chapman said. “I give them credit for using their experience to hang in a game like that when things really looked bad.”


Westtown 48, Satellite Academy (N.J.) 40

Sophomore forward Daniel Ochefu scored 12 points and blocked five shots as Westtown (15-3) defeated Satellite Academy from the Bronx with smothering zone defense.

Westtown, ranked No. 10 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Inquirer, forced 13 turnovers playing 1-3-1 and triangle-and-two defenses.

The Moose’s zones funneled Satellite guards Jevaune Dawson (4-of-15 field goals, 10 points) and Raymond Warren (nine points) into the lane, where Ochefu altered shots for the full 32 minutes.

Satellite led 20-19 at the half, after Warren scored seven of his nine in the second quarter. But Westtown senior guard Matt Lee, a Bryant University recruit, led all scorers with 14 points, including eight in the fourth quarter against Satellite’s press.

Westtown guard Eli Kell-Abrams added 12 points, including five in both the first and third quarters.

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