"Obviously, I was looking for Danny Duffey, our team's most valuable player," Cerruti said. "But since he's such a good player, they were all over him. I had to try to make a play."
Lower Moreland, advancing to the Class AAA final for the first time, will play Holy Ghost Prep, a semifinal winner over Glen Mills, for the district crown at 8 p.m. Saturday at Villanova's Pavilion.
The second-seeded Lions (16-8) trailed the third-seeded Golden Panthers, 48-36, in the third quarter, and were down, 57-51, with 1 minute, 38 seconds to play.
"That has to be the best win we've had since I've been here," said Seth Baron, Lower Moreland's third-year coach. "That's a very talented team we beat. I couldn't be prouder of our kids for the way they battled."
Cerruti's brother, Nick, a 6-4 senior forward, added six points for the Lions.
"We play each other in the driveway at home," Matt Cerruti said. "That pull-up shot at the end, that's his move. I copied it from all the times he's used it on me."
Duffey a sophomore guard, registered a game-high 20 points, five boards, three assists, and two steals. His left-side drive with 33 seconds remaining trimmed Pope John Paul's lead to 58-57.
Matt Cerruti, who hit a buzzer-beating winner for the JV squad this season, shot 6 for 7 from the field (2 for 2 from beyond the arc) and 3 for 3 from the line.
"He's so poised with the basketball," Baron said. "That's a freshman going against bigger, stronger kids."
Dickey Rhoades and Phil Madden (six boards) each chipped in six points. Stefan Zoubroulis grabbed nine boards.
Pope John Paul II (14-10) went 10 for 25 from three-point range. Mikey Cianciulli paced the Golden Panthers with 13 points, four assists, and two blocks.
Pope John Paul II 14 19 15 10 - 58
Lower Moreland 16 14 8 21 - 59
PJP: James Bleming 8, Matt Mesaros 9, Tim Tadros 12, Mikey Cianciulli 13, James McKeon 4, Nick Giampetro 12.
LM: Dan Duffey 20, Dickey Rhoades 6, Nick Cerruti 6, Phil Madden 6, Stefan Zoubroulis 4, Matt Cerruti 17.