ROYERSFORD — A lot of high school boys basketball coaches are eager to see how their squad will handle adversity, but what Pottstown's Cal Benfield had to endure Friday night was a little extreme.
The Trojans took the court for their season opener against Central Bucks South sans five players who were academically ineligible, leaving Benfield with eight total players who suited up.
Despite the skeleton crew of sorts, Pottstown gave a very good account of itself — leading by as many as 12 points in the first half and taking a five-point lead after three quarters.
Over the final eight minutes, however, C.B. surged like Robinson Cano's bank account, while the Trojans' advantage dissipated in a torrent of turnovers.
Senior guard Matt Scamuffo scored 10 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter and the Titans used a 19-2 tear to take command en route to a 64-51 victory over Pottstown in a PAC-10/Suburban One Challenge matchup at Spring-Ford.
"We couldn't handle their pressure, that was the bottom line,' said Benfield, whose squad turned it over 24 times against C.B. South's 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 trapping defenses. "We allowed them to dictate how we played. We threw the ball right into their hands. It was boom, boom, boom — and the turnaround was quick.'
Indeed it was.
For a good part of the game, the Trojans were looking like they were about to christen the campaign in successful fashion.
They got an 18-point first-half outburst from newcomer Jayce Beasley (a 6-foot-2 junior who hails from Australia), 11 points and five rebounds from junior forward Bryant Quill and a strong third-quarter effort from sophomore guard Shamir Edwards.
And when Rich Duvivier canned all three attempts after being fouled on a 3-point bid at the third quarter buzzer, Pottstown led 46-41.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, things quickly unraveled from there.
C.B. South's David Drea opened the fourth quarter with an inside basket to begin a 7-1 spurt capped by Bryce Dobisch's 3-pointer that gave the Titans a 48-47 lead — their first since 3-2.
Pottstown drew even on Quill's foul shot with 4:29 left, but Scamuffo answered with a driving basket 30 seconds later to put C.B. South up to stay and to kickstart a 12-point run that settled matters. Quill also picked up his fourth foul during crunch time, forcing Benfield to sit him during a lot of the key stretch.
"The difference was our defensive pressure,' said Titans coach Jason Campbell, whose team graduated nine players from last year's 17-11 PIAA Class AAAA tournament-qualifying squad. "We finally began to wait for the trap areas to come instead of coming up too early. In the first half we didn't force too many turnovers, but we made the adjustment.'
The Titans also adjusted on Beasley, limiting him to just four second-half points (and none in the fourth quarter).
"He shot the ball well,' Campbell said of Beasley, who nailed all three of his 3-pointers in the first half. "We didn't do a good job of getting a hand up in his face and forcing him to put the ball on the floor, and at halftime we discussed that we needed to deny him. If he caught it, we wanted to be up in his face, and that was a difference. Our power forwards, Paul Weeks and Mason Kummer, did an excellent job in the second half.'
As did the 6-1 Scamuffo (the lone starter back from last year and a second-team Suburban One League pick), who erupted for 20 points over the final two quarters.
"He's an outstanding kid,' Campbell said. "He's our leader.'
The Trojans, meanwhile, will try to find some leadership of their own as they close out the Challenge with a game against C.B. West Saturday afternoon.
According to Benfield, the ineligible quintet — Denzel Harvey, Dave Smalls, Randy Hawkins, Jordan Jackson and Jeremy Burton — could be back next week assuming there are no relapses.
"We've got an inexperienced team,' Benfield said. "The kids want to be in this position, but they're going to have to learn and mature. What I said to them, very simply, was that we have to have a short memory. Once they leave here, get it out of their minds because we have to come back and play tomorrow.'
Duvivier, Quill and Beasley all had five rebounds for Pottstown, while fellow starter Marleeke Lear had four boards. ... C.B. South takes on Spring-Ford Saturday at 3 p.m. at C.B. West in the other PAC-10/Suburban One Challenge contest. ... Scamuffo went 12-for-18 from the line for the Titans.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
PAC-10/Suburban One Tip-Off
C.B. South 64
Pottstown: Duvivier 1 4-5 6, Quill 2 7-9 11, Lear 1 0-0 2, Beasley 9 1-2 22, Edwards 4 0-0 9, Brown 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 13-18 51.
C.B. South: Scamuffo 8 12-18 28, Weeks 2 3-6 7, Dobisch 3 0-0 8, Kummer 3 0-0 6, Drea 4 0-1 8, Degnan 0 1-2 1, Tagliamonte 0 0-0 0, Brodie 2 0-0 4, Gallagher 1 0-0 2. Totqals 23 16-27 64.
Pottstown 16 10 20 5 - 51
C.B. South 6 15 20 23 - 64
3-point goals: Beasley 3, Edwards; Dobisch 2.