It had been 10 years since Penncrest last beat Lower Merion.
Considering the teams play every year and usually multiple times, that is a whole heck of a lot of times.
That included an 0-17 mark for coach Mike Doyle, who took over for the 2003-04 season, but after a thrilling 52-50 win over Lower Merion, the only number that Doyle knew of was 47.
That was the amount of text messages that buzzed into Doyle’s phone to congratulate him on the win. Those texts came from former players, friends and former members of the Dawg Pound, Penncrest’s famed student section.
“It was crazy to see that,” Doyle said. “The Dawg Pound was insane. The building rocked and it was a special win for the community. Everybody was just tremendous. It was just an unbelievable team effort.”
It didn’t hurt the Lions’ chances that they were playing at home instead of in the Aces’ barn, which is usually how things work.
“We always match up with them in Central, Central playoffs and districts,” Doyle said. “In the last eight times we’ve played them (before Tuesday), we’d played them there seven times. It just happened to end up that way and when they went to the big school, small school setup, there was a kink in the schedule where you lost a home game and that happened to be ours. Our juniors had never played Lower Merion at home and they’d played them seven times.”
Rahmi Halaby was at the forefront of it all with 21 points and eight rebounds, Nolan Carroll added 12 points and Ben Casanova had 11, but it was a couple of lesser-hyped players that came up with the big plays down the stretch. Doyle’s son, also named Mike, hit a huge 3-pointer with 50 ticks to go and Drew Hanna connected on both ends of a one-and-one to end it.
EDIT: The initial post contained inaccurate information about Penncrest’s drought. It has since been removed.