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Sports Article
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Panthers Varsity Excelling in Close Games
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Perkiomen School's varsity basketball team celebrated its second straight one possession victory last weekend. First-year head coach John Caldera described a 50-49 win over Friends Select as evidence that his players have fully embraced his program.

            "The guys celebrated because they are all on the same page," said Caldera, who

Kuzey Ercan, right, delivers a pass against Friends Select.

described it as the team's best win on the season.

            "We're hungry to win," junior Kuzey Ercan said. "Our main goal is to continue to compete, even if we fall behind 10 points."

            Ercan -- from Istanbul, Turkey -- scored six of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to help the host Panthers (5-5) rally from a five-point deficit early in the period. Brandon Nunez delivered nine points, and Dominykas Neverbickas -- a native of Lithuania -- added eight points.

            Ercan sparked the decisive 8-0 run for Perkiomen School, which overcame a 47-42 deficit with just under six minutes remaining. He hit consecutive 3-pointers from opposite wings. Jacob Bolyn, a junior from Pottstown, converted two free throws with 1:52 remaining to put the team ahead for good.

            However, the Panthers didn't clinch the victory until Bolyn's offensive rebound on a missed 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left. Kosta Radulovic missed the front end of a one-and-one at the free throw line with 0.1 seconds left, but time expired before Friends Select could collect the rebound.

            Three of Perkiomen School's last four wins have come in its final possession. On Jan. 9, the team rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to post a 64-62 win over host Pennington Prep.

            Bolyn finished with a team-high 18 points. Alfredo Addesa, a junior power forward from Italy, notched 14 points.

            "They guys know what to do when the game is close," Caldera said. "The key is getting them to work hard and stick together."

            The Panthers have already exceeded their win total from last season, when the varsity squad debuted. According to Ercan an overall shift in the players' mindset has been a key to the improvement.

            "We're starting to learn how to finish close games," said Ercan, one of five returning players and the only returning starter. "Everyone brings something to the table. No one cares who scores the points. We're more patient with the ball. We're listening to the coaches."

            Temir Davis, a senior guard, notched 12 of his team-high 16 points to help the Falcons build a 32-21 halftime lead. Christian Kirkland, a senior post player finished with 13 points.

            Jalen Chiles, a senior, registered seven of his nine points during the second quarter for Friends Select -- a Quaker School based in Center City Philadelphia -- which scored nine straight points late in the first quarter to negate an early 9-6 deficit.

            Early in the fourth quarter, the Falcons reeled off six straight points to overcome a 42-41 deficit. Davis' layup off a steal put them ahead 47-42.

            "We knew this game would not be easy," Caldera said of Friends Select, which recently defeated Westtown, the defending Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools champion.






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