A little extra from Chris Vito on the road from Academy Park’s 81-68 loss to Pennsbury in the first round of the District One Class AAAA tournament.
With three of his players sucking wind, Allen Brydges signaled for a full timeout in the fourth quarter. A fan behind the Academy Park bench shouted toward the court, “Make some substitutions,” before choosing some colorful word choices thereafter.
This season, the Knights won and lost with what amounted to a six-man rotation. Friday night, they lost. Their 81-68 defeat at the hands of fifth-seeded Pennsbury ended what had been 28th-seeded Academy Park’s first playoff appearance since 2007-08. The Knights were going for only their second playoff win this century, with their last dating to the 1999-2000 campaign.
Brydges accepted that he did not have a particularly deep team this season. Next season, he hopes he can cull talent from a freshman team that won 10 of its 11 games, and a junior-varsity squad that showed fight despite losing more than it won.
Academy Park, which plays at an up-tempo pace, was matched with an equally swift Pennsbury squad. The Knights started Terran Hamm, Kaleb Taliaferro, Jawan Collins, Travis Smith and Cyrie Spencer. And outside of three-plus minutes of the second quarter, when Hamm was in foul trouble, and the final minute of the fourth, only those five played. (DayJuan Henson was the only substitute to log time.)
“Depth was killing us. Playing six guys is tough at our pace, so we need to be able to get more bodies in,” Brydges said. “It caught up to us tonight. I don’t think it has all season, but it did tonight. That’s why we had to use timeouts. They do a good job of wearing our guards, and that’s the thing. We like that tempo. That’s our tempo. We just didn’t get enough stops.”
At times against Pennsbury, a point to which Brydges alluded, Academy Park had to call timeouts just to give his starting five a much-needed breather. Hurting matters for the Knights was their inability to play stout defense, getting caught ball-chasing as Pennsbury scored on seven of its first eight possessions in a deflatiing fourth quarter for Academy Park.
“It’s hard, especially when they play full court,” Hamm said. “Even if we play good D, we’re not helping ourselves out. And we were doing too much chasing the ball. We didn’t anticipate anything. And we didn’t rebound.”