Mackey, strong defense push Conestoga past Downingtown East at Unionville Tournament

By Pete Digiovanni, PA PrepLive

EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Points were at a premium for most of Friday night’s season opener for Conestoga and Downingtown East. The two teams just did not seem in sync in the Unionville Tip-Off Tournament. But, Conestoga played flawless defense and shut down all but one of the Downingtown East players. Connor Shanahan led all scorers with 28 points, but the Cougars junior’s heroics were not enough as Conestoga came away with the 47-34 victory in the first round of the Unionville Tournament.

Conestoga led wire to wire. The Pioneers harassed Downingtown East into a cold 10-for-42 shooting night from the field and held the number of Cougars who scored to just three.

Senior Ryan Mackey led the way for the Pioneers with a team-high 14 points to go along with five assists.

“We had a great scouting report from the coaches on what they wanted to do,” Mackey said. “We knew they had the big guy (George Bousum) and the left-handed guard (Connor Shanahan) and we tried to take away their strengths. We played very good defense tonight and we were able to keep them out of the paint for the most part. It was an ugly win but it is a win. It’s always better to win an ugly game rather than lose one.”

Conestoga jumped out to a 19-8 halftime lead as Mackey and 6-foot-9 center Mike Walz dominated the first half.

Walz finished the game with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and got Bousum in foul trouble early in the first half. The Pioneers held East to five second-period points after the Cougars scored just three in the initial stanza.

After three periods, the margin was down to 21-14 for Conestoga, and Shanahan was just warming up for the Cougars. He scored 17 of his 28 points in the fourth as East tried to make a charge.
Shanahan rolled down the lane and scored on a floater early in the fourth to close the gap to 21-16. But, Mackey and Walz scored inside baskets on the Pioneers’ next two possessions for a 25-16 lead.

After a Downingtown East turnover, one of 18 for the Cougars on the night, Mackey came down the floor and spotted Walz, all alone under the basket, who threw down a monstrous slam and it was 27-18 Conestoga.

Shanahan kept scoring for East as the silky smooth junior hit two of his game-high three treys in the fourth. Conestoga shut down the rest of the Cougars, and when Chris Erickson took a nice feed from Walz and scored inside.

The lead ballooned to 31-20 with just under four minutes to play. After a East miss, Mackey sealed the win with a driving layup for a 43-20 lead and Conestoga came away with a opening night victory.

“I thought we did a real nice job taking away their strengths tonight,” Conestoga coach Mike Troy said. “I thought we did a nice job on Bousum and did not give them a lot to second chances tonight. Ryan Mackey was big for us. Ryan is a three-year stater and he has a very high basketball IQ. Him and Mike Walz are the only guys who have a lot of varsity experience and they were very good for us tonight.”

Conestoga 47, Downingtown East 34
CONESTOGA: R. Mackey 3 5 3-4 14, Carew 1 0-0 2, Todd 0 6-7 6, Walz 5 2-3 12, Shubert 0 2-2 2, Costigan 0 0-0 0, S. Mackey 0 0-0 0, Slyer 31 3-4 6, Erickson 2 1-4 5. Totals 14 17-24 47.
DOWNINGTOWN EAST: Shanahan 8 9-11 28, Bousum 1 1-2 3, Jha 1 0-0 3, McClatchy 0 0-0 0, Kelly 0 0-0 0, Hill 0 0-0 0, Datil 0 0-0 0, Seguara 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 10-13 34.
Conestoga 7 12 2 26-47
Downingtown East 3 5 6 20-34
3-point goals: R. Mackey, Styer, Shanahan 3, Jha.