Playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League is tough enough for the Devon Prep basketball team.
Playing two league games in the space of 18 hours, that’s doubly difficult duty for the Tide.
But with junior swingman Eamon Walsh delivering 22 points and senior point guard Nick Crowe making several big plays down the stretch, Devon Prep rallied for a 66-62 victory over La Salle on Sunday afternoon in the Explorers’ gym.
“This team always fights,” said Walsh, who also grabbed eight rebounds, dished two assists and took a charge. “We never give up. We’re always in the battle.”
Crowe scored six of his eight points in the final 1 minute, 48 seconds and junior Chris Patton made five three-pointers on his way to 17 points for Devon Prep (6-3, 2-4 league).
In its second year in the league, Devon Prep already has doubled its total wins and PCL wins from last season.
“I stress with these guys that it’s not necessarily about winning or losing games,” Devon Prep coach Jason Fisher said. “I know that sounds cliché and while it’s always rewarding to get a win, even if we lost this game we’re still trying to build and get better.”
Senior Mike DiPietro scored 14 points and senior Liam O’Donnell collected 10 points and six assists for La Salle (9-6, 2-5), which had won six of seven, including a dramatic victory over Lansdale Catholic on Friday night.
The Explorers opened the second half on an 8-0 run to take a 39-28 lead as O’Donnell made a three-pointer and layup and sophomore Sean Jennings converted a traditional three-point play.
“Even when we’re down 11, 13, we’re still not done,” Walsh said.
Devon Prep rallied behind Walsh and senior Scion Dorsey, who made a pair of late three-pointers, including one at the 0:02 mark to cut La Salle’s lead to 48-46 heading into the fourth quarter.
If the Tide players were physically tired or emotionally spent after a 68-39 loss to Roman Catholic on Saturday night, they didn’t show it during a tense final eight minutes.
“It was tough coming off the game against Roman, but we always find a way to bring the intensity,” Walsh said.
Patton’s three-pointer off a feed from Crowe gave Devon Prep a 57-55 lead with 2:40 left. Crowe made it 59-55 with a left-handed runner in the lane at the 1:48 mark.
“I don’t know how I made that,” Crowe said. “I was trying to go up with contact, maybe draw a foul, and I guess I finished.”
Senior guard Jake Timby (13 points, four assists) pulled La Salle within 59-57 with two free throws at 1:31, but Walsh was fouled on a three-point attempt at 1:21 and made all three for a 62-57 lead.
Crowe sealed the victory with four straight free throws in the final 42 seconds.
“He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached,” Fisher said of Crowe. “He looks like he’s still in grade school, but when he has the ball in his hands, he changes speeds so well, changes direction so well, and runs the team.”
Crowe said the Tide took its lumps last season and still takes the court as a big underdog in most PCL games.
Fisher said he and his coaches look for progress in little ways — taking charges, making the extra pass, even shows of enthusiasm on the bench.
But nothing works as well as a victory, especially over an established program such as La Salle that made the league final last season.
“It’s tough competition every night, all these big schools," Crowe said. "Coming off Roman, a loss, coming right off that and getting a win really boosts our confidence.”
Devon Prep 14 14 18 20 – 66
La Salle 21 10 17 14 – 62
DP: Nick Crowe 8, Chris Patton 17, Eamon Walsh 22, Scion Dorsey 8, Lucas Orchard 7, Kevin Walton 4.