With win La Salle earns third seed in AAAA tourney

Posted: February 28, 2014

IT AIN'T always about how many points you score. Sometimes what means more are the winning plays you make, and when you make them.

Last night, La Salle junior forward David Krmpotich didn't exactly shine brightest, but when called upon, the 6-7 forward came up big against Central's senior center Christopher Bing.

"I don't really go up against too many players that are an inch or two taller than me," Krmpotich said postgame. "It was definitely a challenge and I embraced it. I didn't do as well as I wanted to and I struggled a little bit on defense, but he's a good player and he's hard to stop."

Bing finished with a game-high 21 points, but the Explorers eventually triumphed, 53-50, and earned a third seed in the PIAA Class AAAA state tournament.

After La Salle's Shawn Witherspoon (13 points on 6-for-9 shooting) tied the game at 46 late in the fourth, the Explorers (19-6) went to the junior guard again, but when his shot misfired, Krmpotich was there to clean up for a two-point lead. On the ensuing possession, the long-armed forward deflected a pass that gave La Salle possession.

"It's not always about scoring down low or necessarily being a star," he said. "You can do the dirty work too and get the rebounds and steals, helping on defense. It doesn't even have to be a stat that goes on the sheet. Anything that will help your team."

In fact, that could be said of a few Explorers last night. Sophomore guard Chucky Champion hit an important three that netted a 51-48 advantage with 40 seconds remaining after Central's Gregory Holdsman tied the game at 48 with a drive and foul (missed the free throw).

After struggling from the perimeter early, Champion finished with 10 points (3-for-9, 2-for-6 threes). Defensively, junior guard Najee Walls played ball handlers close "like butter plays toast." In addition to seven points, he also added six boards, five assists and two steals. Witherspoon, who played efficiently and under control, added five on the glass.

In the efficiency department, forward Sean Greenberg (seven points) went 3-for-3 off the bench, continuing his hot shooting after a quality showing (11 points, 3-for-5 from trey) in a semifinal loss to Roman Catholic at the Palestra.

"You see shooters go through it all the time," Greenberg said. "Sometimes you just feel more confident with the shot and you tend to see it go in more."

Greenberg, a lefty specialist from outside, will join three family members in the PIAA state tourney. Bailey Greenberg, his sister, and Shannon May, his cousin, are headed to the tourney with Archbishop Wood. Molly Greenberg, another cousin, is playoff-bound with Saint Basil.

Central, which played without junior forward Kahlil Williams (knee), was led by Bing, who also added five rebounds and five blocks. Holdsman contributed seven points with six boards, five dimes and three steals. The Lancers stormed back from a 10-point deficit late in the third after trailing, 34-25, at intermission. A 13-1 run that spilled over from frame No. 3 into the fourth, eventually seized a late lead. However, in the end, the Lancers were undone by 14 turnovers.

As for the fresh-faced Explorers, they will play the winner of Conestoga and Rustin (West Chester).

"We graduated seven seniors last year so [the playoffs] are great," Krmpotich said. "I didn't play hardly at all on varsity and now all the sudden I'm starting and trying to propel our team into the playoffs. It's great because coach [Joe] Dempsey puts a lot of faith in us. And just between the three juniors: me Shawn and Najee; it's really been a test that we wanted to take up.

"It's great," the Conshohocken resident continued. "We got what we've been working for all season and from here on it's just trying our hardest and really trying to keep our season alive."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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