Holy Ghost moves to title game

Posted: February 28, 2014

Matt England and Holy Ghost Prep view the PIAA District 1 Class AAA boys' basketball playoffs as a way to gain redemption for coming up short in the bid for a Bicentennial Athletic League championship.

"That was really disappointing," the senior swingman said. "If we can rebound from that and have some success, that would be a great thing."

Despite a mostly frigid shooting performance, the top-seeded Firebirds hit their free throws down the stretch and escaped fifth-seeded Glen Mills, 45-39, in a sloppy district semifinal Wednesday night at Colonial Elementary School in Plymouth Meeting.

"We really struggled," England said. "We had to fall back on our defense. That's what ended up winning the game for us."

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound England, a second-year starter, netted 12 of his 14 points after intermission. He went 6 for 6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

"My jump shot wasn't falling, and I really couldn't get to the basket, either," he said.

"The big thing was that my teammates really stepped up. They had my back."

Holy Ghost (21-6) will face No. 2 seed and BAL rival Lower Moreland, which bested No. 3 Pope John Paul II in the other semifinal, for the district crown at 8 p.m. Saturday at Villanova's Pavilion.

The Firebirds are seeking their third district title in the last five seasons and sixth in coach Tony Chapman's 36-year career.

England's father, Bill, played under Chapman in the early 1980s.

"My dad really wants us to win a district championship and then do well in states," Matt England said.

Against the Battlin' Bulls, of the Del-Val League, Holy Ghost led by 34-23 after England's bucket with 4 minutes to go. Glen Mills (9-14) responded with an 11-1 burst, cutting the gap to 35-34.

"We kind of forced some jump shots," said England, who averages 18 points. "But, credit to Glen Mills, they knocked down some big three-point shots to get back in it."

Andre Puleo, a 6-4 junior, managed 13 points for Holy Ghost, which went 10 for 10 from the line in the last 53 seconds.

For Glen Mills, senior guard Anthony Burgos drilled two fourth-quarter three-pointers en route to 11 points.

Nathaniel Searight, a 6-5 senior center, added nine points for the Bulls.

Glen Mills 9 3 6 21 – 39

Holy Ghost Prep 9 7 8 21 – 45

GM: Anthony Burgos 11, Anthony Johnson 2, Steven Welsh 4, Franco Harris 8, Timothy Jarvis 5, Nathaniel Searight 9.

HGP: Mike Kirby 6, Zahir Watkins 5, Matt England 14, Joe Braun 2, Tim Brennan 2, Andre Puleo 13, Liam Brennan 1, Alexander Hanssen 2.


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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