Two years ago, when Shane McCusker was a sophomore reserve, a senior-dominated Central Bucks West basketball squad captured the Suburban One League playoff championship.
Now, McCusker is playing an important role in the Bucks' bid to claim top honors for a second time and carry that momentum into the PIAA District 1 Class 6A tournament.
On Saturday afternoon, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound wing delivered 13 of his 15 points in the second half as scrappy C.B. West topped cold-shooting Abington, 53-43, in a semifinal at Bensalem.
McCusker, a tri-captain and second-year starter, shot 8 from 12 from the line in the fourth quarter to help keep Abington, which played without standout forward Eric Dixon, at bay.
"He's a leader for us, he stretches the court with the way he plays, and he often takes on one of the tougher defensive assignments," Bucks coach Adam Sherman said of McCusker.
Dixon, a 6-foot-7 junior who averages 24 points and has several Division I scholarship offers, sat out for a second straight game with a bruised finger on his non-shooting hand. "It's a huge hole, offensively, for them," Sherman said. "The kid is a great player. We had an idea he was going to be sidelined, but we weren't sure."
McCusker's three-pointer at the start of the second half cut the Ghosts' advantage to 23-21. Soon after, his putback forged a 25-25 deadlock. "He's been consistently good for us this season," Sherman said.
C.B. West (19-4) will take on undefeated Plymouth Whitemarsh (23-0) in the final at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Souderton. The Colonials reached the title game with a 79-55 romp over Pennridge (17-6).
The Bucks' Jake Reichwein, a 6-3 senior forward, contributed 14 points, nine boards, and two steals against the Ghosts (18-5). Junior point guard Jack Mulhearn was next in line with 11 points, eight caroms, and two assists.
Abington, which was seeking its third SOL playoff crown, shot a dismal 14 for 51 from the field. Ghosts coach Charles Grasty did not blame Dixon's absence for the setback.
"We didn't change anything up," Grasty said. "We got a ton of shots, but we just missed them."
Junior guard Lucas Monroe paced Abington with 20 points, nine boards, and four assists. Senior floor general Robbie Heath, who netted a career-high 31 points in Friday's 65-56 win over Bensalem, managed only nine markers on 2-for-18 shooting.
C.B. West's Collin MacAdams, a 6-5 senior, pitched in 11 boards, nine points, and three assists.
McCusker's brother, Jimmy, was a 6-foot-4 forward for the Bucks (class of 2015) and now attends South Carolina. Their mother, Kelly, played basketball at Archbishop Ryan and Holy Family.
Shane McCusker, who excels in the classroom, plans to play hoops and possibly study criminal justice in college. Catholic University, Gwynedd Mercy, Haverford, and Randolph-Macon are possible destinations.
Central Bucks West 12 6 13 22-53
Abington 6 16 9 12-43
CBW: Jack Mulhearn 11, Jake Reichwein 14, Collin MacAdams 9, Shane McCusker 15, Jack Neri 4.