EAST ROCKHILL — With the opening game for the Lansdale Catholic's basketball team hanging in the balance against Methacton somebody needed to take ownership of the new year. For the Crusaders, a team with 10 seniors and one junior, there were many willing options to answer the call.It was senior Andrew Riviello's seventh 3-pointer of the night that gave them a lead over the Warriors with under three minutes to play. It was senior Brian Rafferty's offensive rebound and two foul shots that sealed the 65-61 win in Pennridge's Annual Tip-Off Tournament.
"Brian rebounds the ball, he guards well, and he scores,' Crusaders coach Ed Enoch said. "He is so unselfish that we are always telling him to shoot more. We knew this was going to be a very difficult game, but we worked really hard.'
The Crusaders will play host Pennridge in the tourney's championship game Saturday night while the Warriors will square off with Saucon Valley in the consolation game.
Riviello finished with a game high 23 points and the Crusaders connected on 10 three-pointers as a team. Senior Kyle Pavlik contributed with 15 points and Rafferty recorded eight points. The Crusaders need to be the sharp-shooting squad they were against the Warriors if they want to make the final year together a special one.
"We are all experienced players who have been here before,' Riviello said. "Now we need to produce. We had really good ball movement and with our screens my team got me some open looks.'
The Warriors senior Zach Jenkins attacked the rim in the final quarter to keep his team in the tightly contested non-league game, scoring eight of his 14 points in the final frame. Junior Sean Mann led the Warriors with 18 points in the loss.
"We shot it well,' Warriors coach Jeff Derstine said. "We had a couple breakdowns defensively, but I give LC a ton of credit. Their kids really know how to play the game.'
The Warriors finished with three double digit scorers as Justin Ardman added 13 points. The defending state playoff team from a year ago displayed a balanced scoring attack, something they did not always possess last season thanks to play of all-leaguer Brendan Casper, who now plays for Saint Joseph's.
"The players we have returning were strong complementary members of our team last year,' Derstine said. "Brendan was a big time scorer for us, but these guys are ready to step in. I was proud of our kids. They battled, but you certainly do not want to lose the first game.'
While the Warriors are working on coming together the Crusaders have been basically the same starting five for years and playing together since their CYO days. Only time will tell what is in store for the Crusaders in the challenging Philadelphia Catholic League, but they are off to a good start.
"This is an awesome way to start,' Riviello said. "We are pretty much the same starting five since sophomore year and we have a lot of chemistry. Every team is good in the Catholic League so we just have to be tough, quick, disciplined, and go as far as we can.'
Lansdale Catholic 65, Methacton 61
Lansdale Catholic 12 18 18 17 — 65
Methacton 11 18 20 12 — 61
Methacton (61) — Mann 4 4-5 18; Jenkins 3 7-8 14; Ardman 5 2-5 13; Ruhl 3 0-0 9; Alderfer 2 0-0 4; Dyer 1 0-0 2; Totals 18 13-18 61.
Lansdale Catholic (65) — Riviello 8 0-0 23; Pavlik 5 2-2 15; Kirk 3 3-3 9; Rafferty 3 2-2 8; Schneider 2 1-1 5; O'Connor 0 2-2 2; Saba 0 0-1 0; Totals 23 10-11 65.
Three-point goals: M: Mann (4), Ruhl (3), Jenkins, Ardman ; LC: Riviello (7), Pavlik (3).
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.