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Reading High handles Coatesville in PIAA boys basketball playoffs

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY — Looking to advance in the PIAA Class 6A boys basketball playoffs, Reading High went on a decisive run and never looked back on the way to defeating Coatesville 62-44 in a quarterfinal matchup Saturday afternoon at Martz Hall.

With the win, the Red Knights (22-10), the fourth-place team from District 3 and reigning 6A champions, will face Central York, the fifth-place team from District 3 and a 71-60 winner over Upper St. Clair Saturday, in the semifinal round on Tuesday at a time and site to be announced.

“It feels amazing,” Reading High senior center Malik Osumanu said, “especially since we were here last year. Some of us know what it takes to get here and especially to make it here with this group, it feels really good.”

The Red Knights trailed the Red Raiders, the sixth-place team from District 1, by as many as 13 points at 18-5 in the second quarter.

From there, Reading High closed out the first half on a 12-0 run before then outscoring Coatesville 22-8 in the third quarter and putting the game mostly out of reach.

“We just locked in together,” Red Knights coach Francis Camara said. “Basketball is a game of runs. We’re in the Elite Eight of the state playoffs and they’re a good team. They were playing well.

“About halfway through the second quarter we had a good conversation during a timeout. We regrouped, made some adjustments and we had some great leadership from some of our seniors. And once those words hit those guys, it felt like a light switch just went off and our guys started playing a lot better.”

During the 12-0 run, senior Yadiel Cruz, who finished with a game-high 25 points for Reading High, helped turn the tide with a momentum-shifting trip to the foul line.

With the score 18-9 in the second, sophomore Lawrence Brown committed a defensive foul followed by a technical that led to Cruz scoring four consecutive foul shots and making it 18-13. Overall, Cruz was 11-for-14 from the foul line.

Reading High's Yadiel Cruz drives the baseline against Coatesville in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Reading High’s Yadiel Cruz drives the baseline against Coatesville in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The Red Knights then forced two turnovers during the final two minutes of the first half allowing the run to continue.

Reading High had seven turnovers in the first quarter as Coatesville established a 12-5 lead after the opening eight minutes.

The Red Knights finished the first half with nine turnovers while the Red Raiders (22-9) had five.

“I think it was just a slow start for us,” Osumanu said. “After we noticed that we were playing too slow we knew that we had to get our defense together. Once we were able to pick that up everything started rolling.”

The Red Knights scored the first five points of the third before senior Zuri Harris broke the scoring drought for Coatesville and made it 22-20. Harris scored a team-high 13 points for the Red Raiders.

Holding a two-point lead at 24-22, Reading High proceeded to go on an 11-0 run during which Cruz scored five points. Harris once again broke Coatesville’s scoring drought with a pair of free throws late in the third to make it 35-24.

The Red Knights led 39-26 after the third.

“We talked about them being champions and what was going to happen with them; they were going to fight,” Red Raiders coach John Allen said. “And we just hit a rough patch and we couldn’t get it going. We all got to be better. We have to take accountability as coaches first. Without watching the tape there is no explanation of what happened and how it bloomed, but I’m proud of our guys.”

Junior Amon Fowlkes had 11 points for Coatesville as well as two steals. The Red Raiders shot 3-for-12 from the foul line while Reading High was 19-for-27.

Coatesville senior Marquis Peoples Jr. scored five points and fellow senior Dior Kennedy scored four for the Red Raiders. Brown also had four points.

Coatesville shot 11-for-44 overall through three quarters.

“You can’t win games in the state playoffs with that (shooting percentage) and it’s sad that it came at this time,” Allen said. “I really appreciate our seniors. I really appreciate the work that they’ve done, and they’ve laid a good foundation for the younger guys.”

Osumanu and senior Nick Chapman each had seven rebounds for Reading High. Cruz had a team-high 12.

Osumanu also had three blocks in the first quarter to help limit what was strong offensive production from the Red Raiders. He finished with four points.

Chapman scored nine points and had two steals.

Reading High's Nick Chapman drives to the basket against Coatesville's Zuri Harris in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Reading High’s Nick Chapman drives to the basket against Coatesville’s Zuri Harris in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

“That’s what I’m here for (defense),” Chapman said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do when I’m on the court. And I feel like my defense helps everybody because we get our offense going from our defense.”

Reading High's Nick Chapman celebrates after intercepting an inbounds pass after a Red Knight basket and scoring against Coatesville in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Reading High’s Nick Chapman celebrates after intercepting an inbounds pass after a Red Knight basket and scoring against Coatesville in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

For the Red Knights, freshman Jeremiah Camara had seven points, senior Nico Sosa finished with six points, senior Daquan Burgess scored five points, sophomore Weshly Rosario ended the game with four points and five assists and junior Xavier Beatty had two points.

For Francis Camara, senior leadership is proving invaluable as the state playoffs roll on and many of the veteran members of his squad know what it takes to compete with the best.

“It (the senior class) means the world to us; the only reason why we’re still playing is because of our seniors,” Francis Camara said. “I tell everybody all the time, this group of seniors is the most underrated group of seniors. They’re the forgotten group, but they’re also the group that worked their butts off, and they got it from the mud.

“These kids have earned everything that they’ve gotten and they deserve everything they’re getting. And we’re not done. We have more work to do. We’re going to be back into the lab and we’re going to figure out ways to get better as a team.”

Reading High senior Nico Sosa gets inside for a basket against Coatesville in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Reading High senior Nico Sosa gets inside for a basket against Coatesville in a PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Martz Hall. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)


Source: Berkshire mont

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