PERRYVILLE — Perryville’s Andrew Clark had played in three varsity basketball games prior to Friday’s 71-36 regional quarterfinal win against Bohemia Manor. The freshman forward made the most of his minutes to help his team advance to the regional semis.
Clark ended the night with a game-high 17 points and played a critical role in the Panthers’ second quarter output. Perryville outscored the Eagles 23-7 in the second frame. Seven of Clark’s 17 points came in the second quarter, while he finished the first half with 13 points.
“[I wanted] to put the ball in the bucket and prove myself” Clark said of his mindset entering his first playoff game. “I was not trying to be on JV for that much longer.”
Perryville Head Coach Ron Kidd praised Clark for having the ability to produce at the varsity level in relatively short period of time. Clark said he was called up from junior varsity for the final three games of the regular season against Rising Sun, North Harford and Bel Air.
“He’s got such good hands for a kid and he’s a freshman, it’s unbelievable. The kid’s got a great future,” Kidd said. “He worked so hard — because I don’t like to put freshman on varsity — and he earned every second of this.”
Fellow Perryville forward Kyle Richards added 14 points for the Panthers in the victory. Richards’ size allowed him to play as a force on the boards and in the paint, while pushing the pace in transition throughout the night for the Perryville offense.
Similar to Clark, the Panthers head coach said Richards still has loads of untaped potential.
“The kid is a freak athlete and he is learning basketball,” Kidd said. “His ceiling is so high and he has really taken the challenge now. Before he was uncomfortable on a basketball court, and now he really dominates it.”
The night began with both teams trading baskets and saw the Eagles hold a 10-9 advantage with one minute and 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter. A 6-0 Perryville run — all coming off baskets from Clark — gave the Panthers a five-point lead. A Dylan Ash triple to close out the first quarter cut into Perryville’s run and the Panthers held a 15-13 lead.
Perryville began the second quarter with another push — this time a 13-0 run — that turned the Panthers’ two-point lead to a 15-point advantage. Perryville utilized the press to force turnovers and convert on baskets in transition.
Kidd said he did not want to show his defensive hand at the start of the game and instead waited until he felt the call was necessary. Richards added it was all about converging on the ball handler once the Eagles passed it to the middle.
“They always try to pass it to the middle,” Richards said. “We just had to wait for the pass and just take it.”
Entering the second half with a 38-20 lead, Perryville extended its double digit advantage. The Panthers outscored Bo Manor 33-16 in the final two quarters.
Perryville’s Blake Stevens finished with nine points and Jerry Howard tallied eight points for the Panthers. Bo Manor’s Ayden Holderer led the Eagles in scoring with 14 points.
Perryville will host No. 7 Joppatowne on Tuesday in the regional semifinals. The Mariners upset No. 2 Havre De Grace 53-46 on Friday in the regional quarters.
Cecil County Scoreboard
North East 68, North Harford 49
Jabez Griffin finished with a double-double for North East. Griffin totaled 23 points and 12 rebounds. James Traynham had 21 points and eight rebounds. Luke Keefer finished with 15 points and Solomon George added seven points. North East will visit Fallston in regional semifinal action on Tuesday.
Harford Tech 84, Rising Sun 45
Rising Sun’s season came to an end at the hands of the No. 4 seed Cobras. Harford Tech will advance to the regional semifinals against top seed Elkton on Tuesday, a rematch of Elkton’s home opener.
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