Pine-Richland boys secure big win heading into playoffs

Friday, February 7, 2020 | 6:53 PM

Heading down the home stretch of the regular season, the Pine-Richland boys basketball team had a WPIAL Class 6A playoff spot locked up. Still, the Rams did not lack for motivation as they entered their Section 1-6A finale at Central Catholic.

The extra vigor that the Rams brought to the court showed in the result as they toppled the Vikings, 54-45, in overtime to enter the postseason on a high note.

“We really wanted that win because we’re not big on losing to the same team twice in one season,” coach Jeff Ackermann said. “We feel like we didn’t play very hard against them the first time in our place, and they beat us

“We really wanted to make sure we got that second-place spot in the section standings. We feel like we have too much talent to finish in third place in the section this season. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, going into their place and coming out with the win, but our focus was sharp and we got it done.”

The game had a playoff-like atmosphere, Ackermann said. Additionally, it helped to set a template for the brand of basketball Pine-Richland has to play in order to make a run at the Class 6A title.

Kyle Polce and Logan Murray have led the way in scoring. Ackermann said both played well against Central Catholic and will have to continue their contributions.

Joey Petcash, Levi Wentz and Patrick Shanahan also have assumed important roles and will be relied upon significantly in the playoffs.

In addition to seeing his shooters make shots consistently, Ackermann is anticipating the grittier aspects of his team’s play will make a large impact on their postseason fortunes.

“We’ve had some big teams since I’ve been at Pine, but this is one of my biggest teams,” he said. “Still, rebounding is a key for us. It’s important that we do it as a group. We can’t rely one any single guy to get it done for us.

“Everyone has to hit the boards. Then, we also have to make sure that we guard. The first time we played Central, we gave them too many points, and I don’t think we guarded them very well with the right level of intensity. We did a lot better the second time around, and it showed in the results. We have to replicate that.”


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