Boys basketball slams Upper Darby, clinches playoff berth

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By Rohan Gandhi, Guest Reporter

It’s just another game.

Any casual observer might think this if they happened to wander into the Conestoga Large Gym, but for Jack Baker, Darryl Caldwell, Andrew Larkin, Mark Lezanic and Lucas Yonda it was more than just another basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The five seniors stepped onto the court for the last time for the regular season. Coach Mike Troy gave a speech before the game, thanking his seniors for the past four years and encouraging them for the future. Emotions running high, the seniors took to the court. The starting lineup was determined to get one last win at home.

And they did just that.

From the first tip, the game moved quickly. The Royals of Upper Darby and the Pioneers traded several baskets in the first minutes. Finding a rhythm, the Pioneers improved on field goal accuracy to take a 17-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Royals defense became more aggressive in the second quarter to pull the lead back to two points. However, the Pioneers made several steals and went on a 14-0 run to close out the half, leading 36-20.

The Pioneers did not slow down their scoring attack in the third quarter as Caldwell, Larkin, Lezanic and junior Charlie Martin all scored at least on 3 pointer each. The Pioneers played lights out with strong fundamentals. Taking a 21 point lead into the fourth quarter, the Pioneers played keepaway and let the clock run out. With just a few minutes left in the game, each senior walked off the court to a standing ovation. The final score was 67-46 as the team celebrated the victory.

“It was fun,” Baker said, describing the last moments of the game. “It was awesome to all get taken out (of the game) one by one in front of the people you’ve been growing up with.”

The win improves the Pioneers to a 15-6 record, going 11-4 in the Central League. The win also guarantees the team a spot in both the Central League playoffs and the District 1 playoffs. The road ahead is challenging but straightforward. 

“Central League championship, District championship and see how far we can go in states,” a still-motivated Baker said, laying down expectations. “Every year we go farther and farther in the tournament. I want to win a couple of state games this year.”

The Pioneers finish their regular season on the road against Haverford on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.