COLLEGEVILLE, PA –
In the biggest upset of the District 1 6A bracket thus far, the #8 seeded Cheltenham Panthers knocked off the #1 seeded Perkiomen Valley Vikings on their home floor, 64-53, in the district quarterfinals. With the win, Cheltenham advances to the Final Four at Temple University on Tuesday night, where they will face off with #4 seed Coatesville, who defeated North Penn in their quarterfinal matchup.
After a tough back-and-forth first quarter, Cheltenham led PV 13-10 after one period. But the second quarter was dominated by the Panthers and they took a 30-16 lead into the locker room.
The Vikings started the third quarter strong as guards Justin Jaworski and Sean Owens helped PV draw to within three points, 34-31, after three quarters of play.
But it was junior guard Ahmad Bickley and the Cheltenham Panthers who finished strong and started the fourth quarter with an 8-3 run to take control and ultimately pull off the upset. This game was a rematch between the two teams who did battle in the district playoffs last year, a game that Perkiomen Valley won 49-45, back on February 12, 2016.
“The big part of the game today was just respecting Perkiomen Valley,” said Cheltenham head coach John Timms. “I think last year we respected Jaworski and we didn’t game plan for Perkiomen Valley. We game planned for Jaworski. So this time we game planned for Perkiomen Valley…and that made the difference today.”
Bickley, only a junior, led the way for Cheltenham with 24 points and coach Timms has seen his young team grow into a serious contender in District 1.
“Ahmad has grown tremendously,” coach Timms continued. “He played limited minutes on Varsity as a sophomore so this is his first Varsity experience. The only one on this team who has Varsity experience is (senior) Trevonn Pitts.”
“What you’re seeing right now is a finished product of 24 games,” coach Timms said of Bickley. “He is arguably playing some of the best point guard basketball at the high school level.”
Coach Timms will enjoy the win this weekend and get his Cheltenham Panthers ready to play at the Liacouras Center on Tuesday night for the biggest stage of his players young careers.
(Article by Ari Bluestein - Reporting by Nick Paugh)