MALVERN – The Great Valley High School Basketball Team used its height advantage, defensive intensity and 17 points from Brad Sherry to knock off , 56-45, Saturday night before a raucous crowd at its home gym.
Down five at the half and nine midway through the third quarter, the Patriots went on a 13-0 run to take the lead and then hit 10 of 13 free throws down the stretch to register their eighth straight victory. The win is believed to be Great Valley’s first over Henderson since the late 1980s.
“We toughened up in the second half. Our heart and intensity came through,” a happy Great Valley coach Jim Nolan offered after the win. “We’ve played some good teams this year, but no one like Henderson. They are a different kind of team, so it’s a big win for us.”
Playing their 10th road game in 11 starts this season, the Warriors carried a five-game winning streak into this confrontation of top-tier Ches-Mont teams. The inter-division play does not count in the league standings but District I post-season tournament seeding strength was also at stake. The improving Patriots had dropped their season opener to Phoenixville but handled the next seven opponents and stood at 3-0 in the Ches-Mont American Division. Henderson, now 7-4, has lost only to Coatesville in the Ches-Mont National Division and can only hope to get another shot at Great Valley in the league’s post-season tournament.
Senior T.J. White and junior Jason McCormick got the Warriors off to a quick start and they maintained the lead through most of the first half with impressive work on the offensive boards despite the decided size advantage of the Patriots.
David Goodman had his best game of the season and forged Henderson’s five-point halftime lead with a short jumper to give the visitors a 37-32 lead and then a blocked shot at the other end to preserve it. Henderson continued its strong inside play in the third as Declan Kane delivered a three-point play and White a lay-in before a Jason McCormick drive put the advantage at 36-27 with just over four minutes left in the third.
Sherry, a junior, turned the tide for Great Valley with a a three and then scored six more points over the next eight minutes, including a knifing layup that gave the home team a 49-41 lead with three minutes remaining. David Goodman hit a three and a drive to keep it tight earlier in the period, but Great Valley handled the Henderson pressure, hit their free throws and controlled the necessary defensive rebounds down the stretch to secure the triumph.
“In the third quarter, we lost our focus and composure,” Henderson coach Chris Bruno stated. “Great Valley is disciplined and well-coached and they capitalized. We probably didn’t understand the value of that lead. Sometimes you have to learn those lessons the hard way. On the positive side, our defensive intensity was some of the best we’ve had all year.”
Jason McCormick led Henderson with 13 points, Goodman added nine and White eight. Sherry’s 17 was complemented by 11 from senior Ryan Aker, who his five of six free throws to keep his team in control through the final minutes. Sophomore Mikal Bridges added nine. Great Valley made eight of 10 field goals during the final two quarters.
The Warriors return home Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. against Rustin in an intra-West Chester battle and that starts a second-half stretch of seven home games in 11 starts.
In the junior varsity prelim, Henderson won its second straight, 25-23, behind 10 points from Luke Weaver and seven from Colin Costello. The Henderson junior varsity topped Avon Grove Thursday night, 45-33, behind Weaver’s 13 plus eight from Mark DiMatteo.