First Love stages dramatic rally in final minutes to take down Westtown.
West Chester, PA
First Love Christian Academy came 300 miles across the Pennsylvania Turnpike and staged a dramatic fourth quarter rally to upend the host school-Westtown, in the Westtown-Phelps Classic. On the road…down a few players, down 13 points with 5 minutes to play, and in desperate need of a stop is where the Knights found themselves.
Westtown was comfortably controlling the game from the onset, ending the first quarter up 7 points, 19-12. The Moose were able to maintain the 7-10 point cushion the entire first half, relying heavily on the three-point shot. The Moose connected on 9 of their 17 first half attempts. The red hot shooting of teammates, Wade Chiddick, all of his 12 points came in the first half on 4-6 shooting and TJ Berger, 12 of his 15 points came in the first half on 4 of 5 shooting, combined for 24 of the 46 at the intermission. With under a minute in the half, First Love did cut the lead to 5, but the two possession game was short lived as Jalen Warley (17 points) connected with Noah Collier (8 points) for an emphatic alley-opp dunk at the buzzer.
First Love was paced in the first half by DJ Gordon’s relentless attacks at the rim, scoring 11 of his 24 points and Jett Roesing & ’22 Mason Manning’s combined 18 points on 6-8 shooting. Every time Westtown looked like they may stretch the lead beyond 10, one of those three seemed to make a huge play to stop a run.
At the intermission, the Knights committed to encouraging Westtown to go inside to their bigs. Even without 7-0 Madior Seye (DNP) and 6-7 Damani Brown (DNP) in the line-up, they understood they had to extend the defense and force Westtown’s guards to score off the bounce. This was a calculated risk because Westtown can punish you at full strength inside with Franck Kepnang (4 points) and Dereck Lively II (11 points), let alone down bigs. The Knights had to pick their poison and stick to the game plan and that they did!
But even after three, First Love did not win a single quarter. However, their demeanor, presence and most importantly confidence never wavered. This was a high level, back and forth contest and play was intense. The Knights defense was showing a renewed energy and excitement since the break. Coach Wilson’s game plan to extend the defense in the second half limited Westtown to only 2 three point attempts in the third… and look out… The other half of the dynamic duo –Isaiah Wilson was beginning to awaken. The third ended 61-52, the flow of the game changed. Westtown was no longer on pace for 90. In fact they would only score 28 in the second half.
The fourth quarter belonged to Wilson and Gordon. This is when it all started! Down 66-53, and on defense with a little over five minutes to play, the Knights erupted to outscore the Moose 18-4 to close the game. Roesing was the only Knight to score outside of the pair in the period. It was a dagger! Down five points with 1:39 on the clock and ice water in his veins – he nailed an NBA three, catch and shoot from Wilson, forcing a Westtown timeout. The game was a 1 possession game, for the first time since soon after the jump ball.
The Iron Clad defense Westtown displayed the night before was now at the mercy of Coach Wilson’s junkyard dog of a point guard. Isaiah Wilson was in complete control. He finished with 10 of his 16 points coming in the final frame. The ‘break you down’ guard did not miss a single shot in the fourth quarter. He was sensational getting into the lane dishing 3 assists and scored it off the bounce. No score was bigger, than the top of the key trifecta that gave the Knights their first lead of the game 69-68. Gordon later made two free-throws giving First Love the 71-68 win in hostile territory.
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