Dietz’s game-winner puts Knights playoff hopes in jeopardy


Prasham Jobanputra

Mike Chaffee, who has been a member of the basketball team since he was a freshman, dribbles the ball up for the Knights on his senior night.

TOWAMENCIN- For the Knights, this was the biggest game of the year, and it had a crushing ending.

Coming into the game, the North Penn Knights (8-13) were ranked 25th in the District 1 6A rankings while the CB South Titans (11-10) were ranked 24th.  With the top 24 teams going to district playoffs, this was a must win for both teams.  It came down to the last second as the Titans topped the Knights, 50-48.  It was also senior night for North Penn, as seniors Kolby Barrow, Mike Chaffee, Carter Houlihan, and Matt Swanson were honored before the game.

Josh Consoletti opened the game with a three-pointer as the Titans jumped ahead 3-0.  The Knights brought the game to within one point as with 5:41 left in the quarter, Swanson scored a bucket from the post and was fouled.  He made his free throw and the Knights trailed 6-5.  That didn’t last for long, as Josh Jones found Houlihan, who scored a layup to give the Knights a 7-6 lead.  With 2:03 left in the opening quarter, Jones’s season highlight reel got a little bit longer, as Joe Larkins threw Jones a lob and Jones finished with an alley-oop layup.  The Knights took a 13-10 lead into the second quarter.

North Penn extended the lead to double digits when Chaffee got a steal to create a layup with all open court in front him, at the 1:38 mark in the second quarter.  They took a 25-15 lead into halftime.  Then things took a turn for the Knights.  The Titans slowly, but surely, crawled their way back and after a three from Nick Wursta, the Titans trailed by one possession with 3:03 left in the third quarter.  The Titans made sure to keep it close as the score heading into the final quarter was 34-31.

The Titans finally took their lead back after Evan D’Orazio’s three with 6:13 left in the game, to put South ahead 39-38.  With 3:45 left in the game, the Knights made it a one possession game, 44-41, after a layup from Jones.  Then it became a one point game when Swanson collected an offensive rebound and put it back in with 3:04 left on the clock.  The Knights continued to maintain that one possession deficit, until with about 23 seconds left, Jones powered his way to the basket for a tough layup to tie the game at 48.  The Titans gave the ball to the guy who had caught the hot hand with 18 second half points, Alex Dietz, for their last possession.  Dietz drove right, towards the basket, before stopping near the free throw and launching a jumper that fell through the net to put the Titans up 50-48 with 1.6 seconds left on the clock.  The Knights took a timeout.  When they came out of the huddle, Barrow ran to his left on the baseline. The North Penn quarterback and pitcher, threw a laser inbound pass to Jones just past half court.  Jones threw up a prayer for the win but it was no good as the Titans celebrated.

“I’ve been there before.  Last year, I was chosen to shoot the clutch shots, so I’m very comfortable with those shots and I want the ball.  So, I wanted the shot and I just stepped up and hit it.  It was just get the ball in, get the ball in my hands and just see what happens.  We had run a play to start but it didn’t work out so, I just pulled it back out and dribbled through, got my way into a shot and made it,” Dietz explained.

The Knights playoff hopes aren’t completely out the window, but they are up against a tall task.  They will be up against the reigning state runner-ups, the Pennridge Rams, on Thursday at Pennridge.  Pennridge currently ranks 8th in the district with a 16-5 record and beat North Penn earlier this season, 52-44.

“We still got one more game.  It’s a good life lesson, things don’t always work out as you plan them, especially on senior night, but we’ll show up tomorrow, we’ll go to work and see what happens Thursday,” Head Coach John Conrad said.

CB South: Waltrich 2 pts, Consoletti 3 pts, Wursta 6 pts, Farley 6 pts, D’Orazio 9 pts, Dietz 24 pts

North Penn: Larkins 1 pt, Houlihan 2 pts, Carangi 2 pts, Jones 12 pts, Chaffee 12 pts, Swanson 19 pts