The light goes on for Pope John Paul II in rout of Lansdale Catholic

By DAVE KURTZ

Pac-10sports.com

UPPER PROVIDENCE – The light went on during the waning moments of Pope John Paul II’s 60-37 demolition of Lansdale Catholic Thursday night.

It wasn’t as bright or as entrancing as the star over Bethlehem, but it was there just the same. The Golden Panthers were quickly becoming a team in the truest sense of the word.

Coach Jack Flanagan didn’t have to watch the videotape to see it, it was unfolding right there before him - in real time and high definition.

“You could see it when the guys that don’t play that much came in,” said Flanagan. “(Our regulars) were really excited for those guys. That’s the sign of a good team, a team that is together.”

The most telltale sign of that esprit de corps was in black-and-white, on the stat sheet, where PJP collected 18 assists on 20 field goals. ‘Tis the season for giving, after all, and the Golden Panthers showed themselves to be in the holiday spirit the way they shared the basketball.

Jeff Evans delivered the most gifts to his teammates, collecting 5 assists to go along with 13 points. Everyone was in a generous mood, especially Billy Malescio, who came off the bench to drop 4 more dimes.

“Jeff and I have been playing together since ninth grade,” said 6-foot-2 senior Paul Mills, who deposited a game-high 23 points, including 15 after intermission when PJP blew open a 24-20 lead with a devastating 22-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. “We know each other very well.”

Chemistry could have been an issue in the early going this season for the Panthers, but the players from St. Pius X (including Mills and Evans) and Kennedy-Kenrick have meshed into a cohesive unit.

That bond was evident when PJP ratcheted up the defense in the third quarter to ramp up the tempo. The Crusaders had been dictating the pace with a methodical, calculated approach in the opening half, and the Panthers fell right into the trap.

“We talked about doing what we do best,” said Flanagan after PJP improved to 4-2 overall (1-1 PAC-10 Freedom). “We wanted to pressure the ball and speed up the game. Get some steals and turnovers, and get out in transition. We didn’t want to rush anything offensively, and we did a good job of staying patient.”

Leading 24-18 at intermission, PJP saw its advantage shrink to 4 (24-20), when LC’s Matt Pinzka converted a great find by Kyle Pagan (team-high 12 points) with 6:52 left in the third quarter.

But that would be as close as the Crusaders would get.

The Golden Panthers closed the third period on a 13-2 run, with steals leading to 8 of those points. PJP then opened the fourth quarter with 9 more unanswered points, and it was suddenly 46-22. Garbage time was right around the corner.

“We wanted to get the ball off the glass and push it,” said Mills.  “Whether we were playing man or zone, 3-2 or 2-3, they were having a hard time getting into their offensive sets. The man-to-man defense really got us going.”

While LC was imploding with 11 second-half turnovers, the Golden Panthers were just hitting their stride. Coming on the heels of consecutive one-point losses after starting the season 3-0, PJP was also proving its mettle.

“After two one-point losses in a row, it really showed our resiliency,” Flanagan said.

POPE JOHN PAUL II 60, LANSDALE CATHOLIC 37

Lansdale Catholic (37) – Pinzka 1 0-0 2, Pagan 4 4-7 12, Hays 1 2-2 5, DeMeno 1 2-2 5, Rafferty 2 0-0 4, Talarico 1 0-0 2, Harner 1 1-2 3. Totals 13 8-12 37.

Pope John Paul II (60) – Cotellese 1 0-0 3, Evans 4 3-3 13, Mahoney 1 1-2 3, Pavlou 3 0-0 6, Grib 4 0-0 8, Mills 7 9-11 23, Malescio 0 1-2 1, Taylor 0 1-2 1, Holdsworth 0 0-2 0, Early 0 1-2 1, Mansur 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 17-26 60.

Lansdale Catholic             7 11   4 15 – 37

Pope John Paul II             13 11 13 23 – 60

3-point goals: Hays 2, Evans 2, DeMeno, Cotellese.