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Panthers Fall Short in State Title Game
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-03-09

            Perkiomen School's National basketball team hoped to deliver a milestone victory last weekend. Instead, Westtown School extended its dominance in the

Bobby Rosenberger, right, lunges towards the basket for

Perkiomen School in the PISAA state tournament.

Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association basketball tournament.

           The Panthers fell a few possessions short in their state title game debut, losing 46-41 on Saturday, March 5 at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. They nearly overcame a 12-point, third quarter deficit, pulling within three points with less than five seconds remaining.

            However, the Moose (31-7) successfully defended their title and captured their fourth championship since 2016. Quin Berger finished with a team-high 17 points on five 3-point goals. Dereck Lively, a 7-foot-2 center who has signed to play next season at Duke University, delivered 11 points.

            Lively, one of the country's top high school seniors, added 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Jameel Brown registered eight points and hauled down nine boards for Westtown School, the tourney's top seed.

            Xaivian Lee delivered a team-high 11 points for Perkiomen School (26-8). Samuel Pohlman and Thomas Haugh both registered eight points.

            Lee and Pohlman, the Panthers' starting backcourt, sparked their final bid for a state title. With their team trailing 44-33 with just over five minutes remaining, the guards combined to score eight consecutive points.

            Pohlman's 3-pointer with 3:51 remaining triggered the flurry. Lee, a Toronto native, hit two free throws following his steal and an intentional foul with 1:42 left. Pohlman, a New York City native, later hit a shot from beyond the top of the key to pull the Panthers within three points with 4.9 seconds to go.

            Ryan Dunn nearly stole the ensuing inbound pass, but, following a timeout, Westtown School inbounded the ball to Berger, who converted two free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining to secure Westtown's fourth title since 2016.

            One day earlier, the Panthers advanced to their first state tournament final under coach Thomas Baudinet with a 76-39 victory over The Hill School. Three players scored in double figures.

            Lee poured in a game-high 15 points on Friday, March 4. Dunn registered 12 points, and Haugh added 11. Luca Barotta dropped in three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for Perkiomen School, which secured a trip to the finals one quarter earlier. After the visiting Rams pulled within 35-21 early in the third, the Panthers reeled off 13 consecutive points. Haugh's 3-pointer from the right corner early in the quarter sparked the run.

            Lee scored six points during the quarter. Dunn delivered four to help the Panthers extend their advantage to 52-26 late in the third.

            "I thought our guys rose to the occasion," Perkiomen School Head Coach Thomas Baudinet said. "They played with a real sense of urgency. The guys understood what was at stake. Our shot selection was excellent. The key was our defensive intensity."

            Perkiomen School's defensive plan included disrupting The Hill School's top two post players, who rely on several post isolations. Haugh, a 6-foot-9 power forward, limited Augustus Gerhart – a junior from Denver, PA – to 11 points. Daouda Dembele, a 6-foot-8 forward from Silver Spring, Md., held Ethan Meuser to four points.

            On Wednesday, the Panthers debuted in the National Prep Playoffs at the University of Saint Joseph in West Milford, Conn. as the No. 15 seed. They were scheduled to take on Brewster Academy, a seven-time national champion, in the opening round. Perkiomen School lost 64-61 to Brewster earlier this year.

            "It's a great accomplishment," Baudinet said of qualifying for the tournament. "It's so difficult to be selected. When our full roster arrived in September, it was one of our goals. I'm thrilled we could do it. I thought last year's team was good enough to get there. But we didn't have a normal season."


 

 

 

 

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