Hoops: C.B. West fends off St. Joe's Prep, 48-44, in state opener

Central Bucks West 48, St. Joseph's Prep 44

Maybe a three-game losing skid in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA tournament helped C.B. West take a real look at what had been ailing it as of late.

Against St. Joe's Prep in a state opener Saturday, the Bucks, using a spread offense with what essentially is a five-guard lineup, sprinted to a 30-16 lead and then held off the Hawks in the late going at Archbishop Ryan.

Despite the 14-point lead it held early in the third quarter, victory for Adam Sherman's squad wasn't clinched until the final seconds. After the Prep's Gene Williams missed a left-baseline trey, Sherrod Higginbotham made the second of two free throws with 1.3 seconds to go.

The Hawks, missing rising junior Miles Overton (thumb surgery), climbed back in with a 9-0 spurt in the third quarter that was capped by sub Tom Stewart's right-baseline trey.

Down by 35-27 entering the fourth quarter, the Prep cut the gap to 40-39 on PJ Kelly's trey from up top with 2 minutes to go.

A three-point play by Tyler Schechter (great back-door pass from point guard Jared Kelly) and free throw from Derek Dyer gave C.B. West a 44-39 lead with 39.6 seconds to go.

But the District 12 champs wouldn't go away. With 18 seconds left, Stewart's second trey of the half made it 45-44.

With 9.9 seconds left, Dyer stepped to the line and made both free throws. Williams, with his bomb, nearly forced overtime.

Schechter (14), Dyer (nine), and Shane Kellar (eight first-quarter points) led C.B. West (23-5) in scoring. Dyer and Schechter grabbed eight and six boards, respectively.

For the Prep, junior guard Steve Vasturia totaled 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting. Senior guard Kevin Oberlies (two assists) fouled out with 5 minutes, 55 seconds to go.

The Hawks (21-6) went 4-for-18 from beyond the arc (17-for-41 overall). After making his first attempt from beyond the arc, Williams missed six in a row.

In the first half, the Bucks shot 9 for 17 from the field. Overall, they were 14 for 35.

Jack Rogers (five points, two assists) and sub Andrew Schechter (Tyler's twin brother) took turns guarding Vasturia. The Notre Dame commit managed nine of his team's 16 first-half points.

Overall, Vasturia shot 8 for 15 (1 for on threes) and 5 for 6. he added four boards and two assists.

The Prep went the first 10 1/2 minutes without committing a turnover.

Next for C.B. West, in a second-round matchup Tuesday, is Central Dauphin, which advanced with a 52-45 win over Abington at William Tennent.

The Rams, fifth-place finishers in District 3, feature 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward/center Devin Thomas. The Wake Forest commit totaled 25 points and 18 boards (six on offense) versus the Galloping Ghosts.

It was the first state appearance for Speedy Morris and the Prep.

Central Bucks West 15 13 7 13-48

St. Joseph's Prep 10 6 11 17-44

CBW: Jared Kelly 5, Shane Kellar 8, Jack Rogers 5, Derek Dyer 9, Tyler Schechter 14, Sherrod Higginbothom 4, Sam Lis 3.

SJP: P.J. Kelly 3, Steve Vasturia 22, Gene Williams 7, Kyle Thompson 4, Tom Stewart 8.

-Rick O'Brien