Upset-Minded Knights fall to Rams


Jake Copestick

BASKETBALL- The North Penn Knights took a tough playoff loss in a close game with the Pennridge Rams.

PERKASIE- Fresh off a 52-50 upset of the Spring-Ford Rams, the North Penn Knights only had one thing in mind when they faced off against Pennridge in the second round of the district playoffs: to pull off another shocker. However, the Knights could not grasp a lead, and ultimately, they fell to the Rams 43-41.

In the first two quarters, only a few shots fell for both teams, but good defense by the Knights and the Rams prevented both sides from getting too much ahead. After the first quarter, the two teams could only muster 20 points total, with Pennridge leading 12-8. Ryan Warner paced the Rams with six first quarter points, as he knocked down two of his four three point shots in the opening frame. Joey Lindsay and Chris Coleman, who were the Knights two leading scorers in their previous win at Spring-Ford, each had a three pointer for North Penn.

The second quarter featured even less offense than the first. However, North Penn tied the game early in the second quarter when A.J. Mitchell hit a corner three. It would not last though. Pennridge junior Sean Yoder forced a turnover by the Knights and pulled up for a mid-range jumper in transition to give the Rams a 14-12 lead. Ryan Warner added to the lead, hitting his third three pointer of the night, which put Pennridge up 19-14 going into halftime.

The five point lead that Pennridge had going into the second half would not elude them. For every shot the Knights made, the Rams came back with a bucket of their own, many of which came from Yoder. He scored the first two baskets for Pennridge in the latter half of the game, and following a David Robinson layup, the Rams led 23-16.

Then, a barrage of threes ensued for both sides.

Joey Lindsay and A.J. Mitchell hit back-to-back threes on offense for the Knights, who cut the Pennridge lead to just two points, trailing 24-22.

“Our offense was working around, and the ball ended up in my hands for open shots,” North Penn’s A.J. Mitchell said.

But just as quickly as the Knights hit two three pointers to trim the lead, Sean Yoder and Ryan Warner responded, knocking down a three pointer a piece to increase the Rams cushion back to eight.

North Penn’s Chris Caputo and Chris Coleman each had a three pointer to keep the Knights within four points of the lead, but Jake Pestrak of Pennridge put in a three of his own to give the Rams a seven point advantage heading into the final frame. Yoder led all scorers with seven points in the third, where both teams drained seven three pointers collectively.

The fourth quarter was more of the same for North Penn; as hard as they clawed back to keep it a one possession game, Pennridge traded buckets with them for the remainder of regulation.

When A.J. Mitchell, who led the Knights with eight second-half points, hit a tough turnaround shot on the baseline, Sean Yoder answered back with a pull-up jumper.

“A.J. hit some big shots from the perimeter, he defended [Sean] Yoder, and he did a nice job,” noted North Penn Head Coach John Conrad.

A deep three from Mitchell and a free throw from David Robinson cut the Rams lead to three, but Tyrese Lewis of Pennridge put the lead back to five with a contested floater in the lane.

Then, North Penn got exactly what they needed – a score and a stop.

David Robinson hauled in a beautifully thrown pass from Joey Lindsay and put in a layup that put the Knights within one shot of the lead, trailing only 39-36.

A.J. Mitchell then forced a clutch turnover by the Rams, setting the Knights up to potentially tie the game with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter, but Joey Lindsay’s three point attempt was off, forcing Pennridge to ice the game on free-throws.

Mike Molettiere and Jake Pestrak went to the line for Pennridge, and although they both went 1-2, it was enough.

Sean Yoder was then sent to the line for the Rams and hit both foul shots to give Pennridge a 43-38 lead, putting the game out of reach for North Penn.

“It didn’t really matter what we did, Dean [Behrens] probably said to get Yoder the ball a lot,” said Conrad. Yoder paced the Rams with 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

With the win, Pennridge advances in the district tournament, while for North Penn, it’s win or go home, as the Knights make the trip to Conestoga for a playback game at 7 p.m. this Friday.

“We’ll get back in the gym, work hard, and not worry about this game too much. We have to focus on the next one [at Conestoga],” said Mitchell.

North Penn: D. Robinson 9 pts, Coleman 9 pts, Mitchell 9 pts, Lindsay 6 pts, Caputo 6 pts, McIver 3 pts

Pennridge: Yoder 13 pts, Warner 12pts, Lewis 7 pts, Post 6 pts, Pestrak 4 pts, Molettiere 1 point