By Pat Leonard
FOR THE INQUIRER
Shipley 69, Susquehanna Township 65, 1 OT
Down the stretch of games, the luckiest high school basketball teams have at least one go-to scorer.
Shipley had three in yesterday’s 69-65 overtime win over Susquehanna Township Sunday at Widener University in Chester.
Gators junior guard Ky Howard scored nine points in the fourth quarter, and junior forward John Carney hit a key three-pointer down the stretch of regulation. Then sophomore guard/forward Chima Nwakpuda had six of the Gators’ 12 points in overtime to separate Shipley (13-6) from a 57-57 tie with the Indians (8-7) at the end of four quarters.
This was the first of five games on the final day of the 11th annual Kobe Bryant/Philly.com/Rally Classic. The two-day showcase also included six games at Archbishop Carroll in Radnor on Saturday.
Against Susquehanna, Howard (20 points, six assists), Carney (16 points) and Nwakpuda (15 points) combined for 51 of the Gators’ 69 points.
“Ky’s the one that does the majority of the ball-handling, so they put two people on him down the stretch,” Shipley coach Andre Brown said. “That opened things up for Chima to get to the basket, which is one of the things he does really well.”
Nwakpuda was 7-of-13 from the foul line for the game and made just 3-of-8 in regulation. But he was 4-of-5 from the stripe in overtime, including an old-fashioned three-point play with 16.4 seconds remaining to put Shipley up 67-62 and seal the deal.
“It was good to see us fight through and the win, but it would have been nice to maintain that lead we had,” said Brown, whose Gators led by as many as nine, 41-32, late in the third quarter.
After Shipley relinquished that lead, Carney hit a three-pointer midway through the fourth quarter to give Shipley a 50-48 advantage.
“They were pressuring us, so we just kept using screens and backdoors and kicking the ball to the open man, and our guys were knocking down shots,” Howard said.
But with 1:30 remaining in the fourth, Susquehanna senior guard Jhavon Gray (12 points) tied the game at 55 on layup.
Howard made two free throws to put Shipley back on top 57-55, but the Indians answered again with 59.8 seconds to play on a post move by senior guard/forward Jordan Epps (16 points).
After Shipley held for the last shot until Indians defender Michael Johnson forced Howard into a turnover at the eight-second mark, Susquehanna senior guard Ben Dupree’s three-point attempt rimmed out to send the game to an extra period.
Susquehanna, paced by 6-foot-4 junior forward A.J. Dean (17 points) was playing without its injured starting point guard, senior Tajh Turner.
But Shipley had its star, Howard, at the top of his game when it mattered most.
“But I’d rather, instead of seeing me, that people here know Shipley is on the map now,” the junior said.