It’s all so new.
It’s all so ordinary, too.
“We get on a bus, we go play a game,” Unionville coach Chris Cowles said with a shrug.
Unionville has reached the PIAA Class 5A boys’ basketball quarterfinals, courtesy of a 61-49 victory over West Chester Rustin on Tuesday night in a second-round clash of familiar rivals.
That’s new territory for the Indians.
“When we won our last game, it was the first state win since 1981,” Cowles said of the team’s 54-29 win over Martin Luther King in the state tournament opener.
The Indians’ last appearance in the state quarterfinals?
“I have no idea,” Cowles said. “People tell me these things. I don’t go fishing for that stuff.”
Cowles and his players’ workmanlike approach has worked wonders for a program with little in the way of postseason tradition.
“We’re Unionville, we’re usually not too good,” Indians senior swingman Logan Shanahan said after generating 22 points with 12 rebounds.
Senior guard Bryce Whitlock added 12 points and senior guard Jon Passarello contributed eight points with six assists for Unionville (21-7), the No. 5 seed from District 1.
Junior guard Sean Neylon scored 10 points and senior guard Pete Kucharczuk added seven points with three steals and three assists for the Indians, who advanced to face another familiar foe in Ches-Mont League rival West Chester East in Friday’s quarterfinals.
West Chester East, the District 1 champion, beat Pottsville, 38-35, on Tuesday night.
Junior forward Jacob Barksdale scored 16 and junior guard Griffin Barrouk added 14, all in the fourth quarter, for West Chester Rustin (18-10), the No. 4 seed from District 1.
“We played urgently,” Cowles said. “They were urgent. They were together. Even the mistakes that we made, we never saw them get down. The communication level was tremendous.”
The game, which was played at West Chester East’s Shug Byrne Gymnasium after Oxford declined to host it in a precautionary decision related to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, was the fourth meeting of the season between the Indians and Knights.
West Chester Rustin won two of the first three, including a 62-51 victory in a District 1 second-round game on Feb. 22.
But Unionville turned the tables on Tuesday night, breaking the game open with a third-quarter surge led by Shanahan, Passarello, and Kucharczuk.
“Each game keeps getting tougher,” Shanahan said. “They know all our plays. We know all theirs.
“None of our plays work and we just have to tough it out. Grit, I guess.”
West Chester Rustin took its first and only lead at 25-24 when sophomore IV Pettit hit a three-point jumper with four minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
But Unionville answered with an 8-0 run as Kucharczuk and Shanahan hit three-point jumpers and Whitlock made a layup.
Shanahan, a skilled 6-foot-6 athlete and Emory University recruit, scored nine points in the third.
“He hit huge shots,” Cowles said of Shanahan. “He’s phenomenal. He’s an elite player.”
When West Chester Rustin closed within 38-33 early in the fourth quarter, Shanahan hit a step-back three-pointer to jack the lead back to 41-33 and allow the Indians to spread the floor, work the clock and look for backdoor cuts.
“I just want to go out and be proud of what I did,” Shanahan said. “Especially effort. Just leave it all on the floor.”
It’s all new for Indians, a deep state-tournament run for a program with virtually no experience at this stage of the season.
Cowles said that somehow, it all feels familiar, too.
“It’s been pretty normal” Cowles said. “I see a calmness, which is nice. They don’t care and that’s amazing.”
Unionville 10 10 18 23 – 61
West Chester Rustin 6 9 14 20 – 49
U: Logan Shanahan 22, Sean Neylon 10, Jon Passarello 8, Bryce Whitlock 12, Pete Kucharczuk 7, Ryan Lenkaitis 2,