THORNBURY – Kuity Slanger slashed to his left, drove his left hand up and a second later, Upper Darby had its first lead of the game.
Yup, the same Royals team that had been down by as many as 19 points midway through the fourth quarter and looked dead in the water against a feisty, ever-improving Glen Mills team. That’s the power of James Fisher not hitting a shot for 3 1/2 quarters and suddenly not being able to miss from downtown on the way to five fourth-quarter 3-pointers and that’s the power of Upper Darby getting its paws on seemingly every loose ball.
And while the Royals ultimately fell, 72-65, thanks to a strong performance from Glen Mills point guard Jah-bree Alleyne that you’ll read about in the Sunday Times – and some spotty officiating didn’t hurt, either – Upper Darby showed that even though it can be down, it’s never out. A big part of the Royals’ game revolves around their jump shots and when the shots are falling, they can hang with almost anyone. When they’re not, well, that’s how you get down 19 points in the first place.
More after the jump…
“It’s good that we stuck together as a team,” Fisher said, “and never gave up. We didn’t lay down like everybody expected us to. We just kept fighting.”
And it’s tough to say the Royals deserved to win when they were outplayed for most of the game, but when Slanger dropped in a layup to put them up 58-57, it looked like they’d have the chance to. But Jay’re Jackson (20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) grabbed the ball, went down the court and looked like he lowered his shoulder into Slanger, but Slanger was whistled for a shaky foul call that didn’t sit well with Upper Darby coach Bob Miller.
“Take nothing away from Glen Mills,” Miller said. “Great coaches and they did a great job and probably deserved to win because they were beating us pretty bad, but to lose after you come all the way back on a foul call like that at the end of the game from a guy who was under the basket and another guy 15 feet away calls nothing…It was hard to explain that to my kids afterwards.”
The Royals had four (!!!) players foul out, though part of that was because they had to foul the Bulls late. Regardless, still a tough pill to swallow for Upper Darby. What was impressive, though, was how the Royals came back. Fisher misfired – badly on some – on his 3s all night and then couldn’t miss. He banked home a 3-pointer to make it 55-51 Glen Mills with a hand in his face that he took from what seemed like West Chester. When those are going in, it’s just your time.
“After I banked it in, I felt like I couldn’t miss anymore,” said Fisher, who had 16 points.
The Royals hoisted up an incredible 33 3-pointers and only made seven of them. Those are the perils with relying on the jump shot so much, especially with big man Beni Toure battling an injury and not playing against the Bulls. He’ll likely miss more time, too. What I did like a lot, though, was how aggressive the Royals stayed. Slanger could miss 100 shots in a row and still be just as confident in shooting the 101st shot and he showed me that he can rebound, defend and even run the point at times. Demetrius Timmons seemed to provide a spark when he got minutes, especially in the second half and overtime, where he snared seven of his eight rebounds.
For Glen Mills, I’ll talk about Alleyne in tomorrow’s paper, but he looked much improved from a sometimes out-of-control point guard that I saw recently against Council Rock North. He’s a smart passer who maybe should shoot more at times, but as Bulls coach Tony Bacon said, the Bulls will go as far as Alleyne takes them.
Jackson is a stud. No questions asked. He rebounds exceptionally well for a 6-1 guard and is as comfortable on the outside as he is in the paint. Shiheem Spencer is sneaky if you leave him open. He won’t do much in spells, then come on strong for some big buckets, especially from beyond the arc. Glen Mills will be a tough team to deal with in the District One AAA bracket, especially if Quadir Jones can provide reliable inside scoring alongside Ricky Readus. Neither has a polished offensive game, but they work well with Alleyne dishing them the ball.
– MATT CHANDIK