Spring-Ford makes another early exit from district playoffs after loss to Wissahickon

By DAVE KURTZ

Pac-10sports.com

LOWER GWYNEDD – There are no reprieves at this stage of the postseason, no margin for error, no second shots.

It’s win or pack it in. Either thrive and stay alive, or get beat and become obsolete.

Spring-Ford learned that harsh reality for the fourth straight year Friday night after suffering a 47-43 loss to host Wissahickon in the opening round of the District One Class AAAA boys basketball tournament.

Coming off a 51-45 setback to Pope John Paul II in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship clash Tuesday, the 18th-seeded Rams saw their fine season end amid a firestorm of rim-rattling misfires that resulted in 37 percent (21-57) shooting from the floor.

“I’m tired of being one-and-done,” said Spring-Ford coach Mike Young. “This last week we faced a lot of adversity (losing its leading scorer to a rules violation), but we came together as a team. I told the guys this is a life lesson.

“We battled, never quit, which is a trademark of our team. But to lose again in the first round – it’s frustrating.”

Most of the Rams’ frustration was caused by Wissahickon’s 6-foot-7 junior center, Tanoh Kpassagnon. Kpassagnon was an absolute beast in the paint, blocking three shots and affecting countless others, snaring 13 rebounds (7 offensive) and cashing 9 points.

“Tanoh has gradually gotten better,” said Trojans coach Kyle Wilson. “He’s a football player, a defensive end, and he was a little slow coming around at the start of the season. But he’s a physical kid, very athletic and he alters a lot of shots.”

Despite Kpassagnon’s dominating presence in the lane, Spring-Ford did not go quietly. Held to 25 points in the first three quarters and staring up at a 39-28 deficit with 6:35 remaining, the Rams awakened behind the long-range shooting of Pat McLaughlin and the inspired play of Andrew Keys.

With Spring-Ford’s back planted firmly against the wall, the injury-besieged McLaughlin drilled trifectas on consecutive possessions to key a 15-6 run. Keys had a traditional 3-point play and fine assist in the spurt that culminated when Andrew Scanlan canned a jumper from the left baseline. Out of nowhere, the PAC-10 Liberty Division champions were within two at 42-40 with 2:10 left.

But Wissahickon responded with an Anthony McKie floater in the lane for a 44-40 lead at the 1:43 mark, and Spring-Ford would get no closer.

 “That was a big shot,” said Wilson of McKie, who finished with 10 points. “That took some of the pressure off. If he doesn’t make that, they can come down and tie it.”

The Rams would get five more possessions down the stretch, but came up empty each time until Josh Dishman buried a trey just before the final buzzer – too little, too late.

“I thought we played tough in the second half, played like we’re capable,” said Young, whose team led 8-2 early before falling into a 25-18 hole by intermission. “We got a good job off the bench from (Ryan) Keefe and McLaughlin.”

Keefe shot 4-for-5 en route to a  team-high 8 points and McLaughlin finished with 6 for Spring-Ford, which finishes its season at 16-9. The early exit was especially painful for McLaughlin, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL and was limited in his senior year by a sprained MCL.

“I thought we did really good this season,” McLaughlin said. “We were trying to get good shots. We just didn’t hit enough of them.”

FREE THROWS: Wissahickon overcame 11 turnovers with a 35-26 rebounding edge … Before fouling out for the second straight game, Spring-Ford’s sophomore center Zameer McDowell had just 4 points but pulled 11 boards, including five off the offensive glass … “I told our guys, ‘you can’t let this team hang around,’” Wilson said. “We were giving them life.” … Wissahickon moves on to face No. 2 seed Council Rock Tuesday in the second round. The Rock topped No. 31 Great Valley 43-28 Friday ... Jordan Reed shot 5-for-9 en route to a game-high 14 points for the Trojans.

Spring-Ford (43) – O’Hara 1 2-2 4, Dishman 2 2-2 7, Keys 2 1-1 6, McDowell 2 0-0 4, Branch 2 0-0 4, Scanlan 2 0-0 4, Lacy 0 0-0 0, Keefe 4 0-0 8, McLaughlin 2 0-0 6. Totals 17 5-5 43.

Wissahickon (47) – Reed 5 3-7 14, McKie 3 2-4 10, Scheier 1 0-0 3, Garrett 3 0-0 7, Kpassagnon 2 5-7 9, Freed 1 0-0 2, Kibler 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 10-18 47.

Spring-Ford        12 6 7 18 – 43

Wissahickon       12 13 9 13 – 47

3-points goals: McLaughlin 2, McKie 2, Dishman, Keys, Reed, Scheier, Garrett.