At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Aidan Bauer drove down the lane several times with 6-10 Abraham Deng bearing down on him.

"I thought I could use my speed to get by him," Bauer said. "If I didn't, I was hoping to draw a foul."

Bauer's aggressive play at guard was key for Holy Ghost Prep in its 38-29 triumph over Deng and Valley Forge Military Academy in the Bicentennial Athletic League Independence opener for both squads Tuesday night in Bensalem.

Bauer, a second-year starter, shot 4 for 9 from the field and 6 for 8 from the line en route to 14 points. He added four rebounds, including one on offense, and three steals.

"He's a quiet leader for us," longtime Holy Ghost coach Tony Chapman said. "He always plays hard, he's respected by his teammates, and he steps up and plays well in big games."

Over the weekend, the Firebirds (2-1) split a pair of games in the Manheim Township Tip-Off Tournament. They bowed to the host Blue Streaks, 63-60, in Saturday's final.

"We just can't win in a game in the 60s," Chapman said. "We have to control the tempo and play at a slower pace."

Bauer, John McCrane, and Mike McFadden are returning senior starters for the defending PIAA District 1 Class 3A champs. McFadden, a second-team all-BAL selection last year, sat out against the Trojans (2-1) because of a team-related issue.

Ahead by 20-19, the Firebirds closed the third stanza with a 7-0 run to gain breathing room. It was capped by Bauer's steal and layup.

Deng, a junior, is hearing from the likes of Connecticut, St. Joseph's, and Virginia. He totaled 13 boards, eight points, and three blocks.

"We tried to front him in the post and deny him the ball," Bauer said. "If he did catch it, we wanted to immediately double-team him. I thought Greg Calvin and Ryan Staropoli did a good job on him."

McCrane chipped in eight points; Jack Elliott (seven boards) drilled two three-pointers for six points; and Staropoli chipped in four points and the same number of boards.

Bauer's left-side drive and layup off the glass gave the hosts a 32-22 advantage with 4 minutes, 19 seconds remaining.

Bauer, who lives in Mayfair, is waiting to hear back on his application to Villanova. The 17-year-old plans to major in chemistry and become a medical student.

Valley Forge M.A. 7 6 6 10 - 29

Holy Ghost Prep 4 12 11 11 - 38

VFMA: Abraham Deng 8, Arion Lewis 5, Myles Bunyon 8, Rhye Ahronson 7, Alex Panayides 1.

HGP: Jack Elliott 6, John McCrane 8, Joe Calvin 2, Aidan Bauer 14, Ryan Staropoli 4, Luke McDonald 2, Jack Rittenmeyer 2.

@ozoneinq