Tredyffrin – Following Conestoga’s loss to Lower Merion in the second round of the PIAA District One 6A boys’ basketball playoffs Feb. 20, Pioneer head coach Mike Troy mentioned that if his team wanted to advance to States, they would have plenty of character tests in the upcoming playback bracket games.
After surviving an overtime thriller against a feisty North Penn squad Feb. 23, Conestoga faced a stiff test against visiting Neshaminy Tuesday in a game that would send the winner to the PIAA Class 6A state tournament.
After surviving an early onslaught by the visitors led by senior Chris Arcidiacono, who scored 12 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, the Pioneers did what they do best – persevere and dig their heels in preparing to battle until the final horn.
Despite being down as much as 16 points in the second quarter, Conestoga fought back and got to within one at 50-49 on a Zach Lezanic three-pointer before Neshaminy held off the hosts, 59-55.
“The second half tonight was a testament to the character of this team,” said Troy. “They fought harder than they fought all season. To be down 15 plus points and come back says a lot about this group. It was absolutely awesome to watch.”
“Tonight, was an example of who we are,” said Conestoga senior guard Collin McFillin. “We are a resilient group and fight till the end. We did it as a team.”
Tuesday’s game against Neshaminy was the latest example of the grit and determination Conestoga showed all season, featuring a team comprised of many players who had little varsity experience going into the season.
Sparked by a senior class – Erickson, McFillin, Charlie Schappell, Ronan Mayock and Thomas McGovern – who embraced their role, be it on or off the court, the Pioneers got through the tough losses while reaping the benefits that included wins over state tournament qualifiers Lower Merion and Pennridge.
“We wanted to set a good example for the younger players,” said McFillin. “We believe we did that and hopefully this team will pick up where we left off and go farther than we did.”
“Everyone gave their all every time they were on the court for games or practices,” Erickson said. “Our success this year was a total team effort. We knew we had the heart to do this. It was just a matter of doing it.”
“I am really proud of what the team accomplished,” said Troy. “During the year we asked a lot of guys to fulfill a lot of different roles and their response was tremendous. The fought until the end and showed their true character.”