The Upper Merion boys’ varsity basketball team advanced to the Quarterfinals or the PIAA District 1, 5A playoffs on Wednesday after defeating the Strath Haven Panthers by a score of 55-45.
It was a close game till the final minutes, but the Upper Merion Vikings left little doubt as to who was the better team after trailing only once and closing out the game on a 10-3 run.
Upper Merion came into the game as the 8th seed in the tournament, with a record of 13-9 overall and 9-4 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Strath Haven finished the regular season 12-12, with a conference record of 8-10 in the Central Athletic League, and entered as the 9th seed.
Though Strath Haven never trailed by more than 5 points until the final minute of the 3rd quarter, their only lead came midway through the 2nd quarter, when they led 16-15.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, Upper Merion led 41-33. Over the next three minutes, Strath Haven went on a 9-2 run to come within one point, trailing 43-42.
With 5:05 remaining in the 4th quarter, Upper Merion had sustained the Panthers’ best run, but still held a one point lead.
Upper Merion then went on a 10 point run to give themselves a 53-42 lead. Strath Haven’s only points in the final 5 minutes came on an uncontested three-pointer in the final seconds.
On the inbounds pass, senior guard Aidan Newell was fouled and went to the line for two free throws that made the final score 55-45.
The Vikings were able to outlast Strath Haven because of their points in the paint and ability to spread the ball around. Senior forward Matthew Faw lead the team with 20 points, Newell scored 10 points in the 2nd half, and senior forward Ethan Miller added 14 points.
Outside of their 4th quarter run, Strath Haven struggled offensively. A team leading 21 points from senior forward John Harran wasn’t enough to overcome the team’s 14 turnovers.
Upper Merion will travel to top seeded Chester for their Quarterfinal match up this Saturday at 7 p.m.