It’s called the Christmas break. For many, the holiday season between Christmas and New Year’s offers a reprieve from either work or school. In the basketball world, the situation is no different. While some teams choose to remain idle for the entire week, others decide to take advantage of the situation that offers a respite from the nightly grind of seeing the same familiar faces, opting instead to line up against a team that you may not necessarily be all that familiar with, in hopes that you can find a spark that will ignite your squad heading into the new calendar year. That was precisely the case for the Pequea Valley Braves on Wednesday night as they made the trip north to Fleetwood to participate in the 54th annual Fleetwood Tiger Classic. And although Pequea Valley would be looking for that aforementioned spark entering the midweek with a 2-6 overall record after having already seen the likes of Lancaster Catholic, Lancaster Mennonite, and Northern Lebanon, their task on this night would not exactly be considered a walk in the park.
Their opponent, the Upper Perkiomen Indians, entered the Fleetwood holiday tournament on a roll to say the least. After coming up short in their opening game of the season against North Penn, the Indians went on a tear, winning their last six ballgames with visions of taking the Fleetwood tourney undoubtedly on their minds as well. As far as that goal is concerned, so far so good.
It may have been a sign of things to come. Literally right from the opening tap, Upper Perk senior co-captain Ryan Kendra showed why he would be a handful all night for the Pequea Valley defense as the 6’4” guard took the opening defection from the center circle and drew a roadmap to the tin, coming away with the first score of the evening, just seconds into the contest.
But Pequea Valley has an emerging star of their own and his name is Devon Colyer. Right on cue, the 5’10” freshman point guard showed why he is one of the most promising rising stars on the Lancaster-Lebanon League Boys Basketball scene as he too drove hard to the rack and was rewarded for his efforts coming away with a deuce for his squad, good for two of his team-high 18 points on the evening.
If Kendra wasn’t doing the damage for Upper Perk this evening, matchup nightmare Will Walker was more than happy to run with the baton. Or more accurately, dunk the baton which is precisely what the Indians’ 6’7” senior forward was able to do later on in the opening stanza, extending Upper Perk’s lead to 8-4 with 4:40 left to play in the opening quarter.
Undeterred, Pequea Valley stuck to the gameplan, patiently running their offense with Upper Perk threatening to take this one over by force early on. And slowly but surely after a Devon Colyer free throw a little more than a minute after the Walker jam, PV found themselves within one at 8-7 with three minutes left in the first quarter.
But from there on out, Upper Perk was able to keep Pequea Valley in the rearview mirror the rest of the night. Immediately after the Colyer freebie, the Indians roared back with a 6-0 run, the last four of which came from Ryan Kendra, putting Upper Perk up by a touchdown at 14-7 with two minutes left to go in quarter numero uno. The Indian lead only increased from there as a pair of Will Walker free throws allowed Upper Perk to double up Pequea Valley at 18-9 as the opening quarter came to a close.
Once the second quarter got underway, it was more of the same for Upper Perk. After a quick 4-0 run authored by the Indians forced Pequea Valley to call a timeout just 40 seconds into the second quarter, the 4-0 Indian run eventually became a 7-0 Indian run before a Devon Colyer three point play finally stopped the snowball from running downhill on Pequea Valley.
However Upper Perk had one goal in mind on Wednesday night. Make it to the title game. After a pair of triples from Sean Boyle, the road to Thursday night’s final appeared to have a few less speedbumps on it as the Indians’ lead had morphed into a commanding 36-14 cushion with just two minutes left in the opening half.
To their credit however, PV was able to close the opening half with a bang as a triple knocked down by senior forward Nathan Kovalick, coupled with one just moments before the buzzer from Devon Colyer, made it a 38-20 Upper Perk lead at the intermission.
New half, same ole Upper Perk. After a pair of triples splashed home by senior guard Tyler Keyser, the Indian lead had swelled to 44-19 to start the second half. Shortly thereafter, Upper Perk continued to have some fun as a one-handed slam by Ryan Kendra, the Indians’ third dunk of the ballgame, made it a 49-22 score in their favor with 4:58 left to play in the third.
Upper Perk only continued to play relentlessly over the span of the next three minutes of game action as yet another Upper Perk blitz, this one to the tune of 5-0 forced Pequea Valley to burn another timeout, now down 53-22 with 2:02 left in the third.
And although Pequea Valley senior guard Malachi Glick was able to drive hard to the cup and come away with a bucket following the Brave timeout, another dizzying offensive display put on by Upper Perk would close the curtain on the third quarter of play as a beautiful dish from Ryan Kendra to Jon Brown underneath put the bow on a magnificent offensive set for Upper Perk, and the quarter to boot, with the Indians holding serve with the 55-24 advantage.
Pequea Valley would continue to show fight once the final quarter got underway as junior guard Dalton Temple went on his own personal 4-0 flurry to start the final eight minutes out with a bang for the Braves. But Upper Perk’s Brody Case would take it from there as the junior forward’s pullup jumper made it a 30 point Indian lead at 58-28 with just 6:10 left to play. Following suit, fellow junior forward Jake Plessl got in on the scoring party as his triple, coming on the heels of Case’s J, truly allowed Upper Perk to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Although Devon Colyer would have time for one last highlight on this night, a trifecta that made it a 65-33 Upper Perk lead with four minutes left to go, the Indians would be able to close this one out in style as a put back by freshman Riley Decker, piggybacked with a trifecta from Brody Case, put the exclamation mark on Upper Perk’s dominating opening round win over Pequea Valley by a 73-36 count.
UP NEXT: Upper Perkiomen will advance to the finals where the Indians will spar with either Brandywine Heights, a team that Upper Perk defeated by five just two weeks ago, or the host, Fleetwood. At the time of this upload, the final score from the nightcap had yet to appear across the Twitter wire.
Pequea Valley on the other hand will look to regroup 24 hours from now as the Braves will be tasked with putting tonight’s performance behind them as they will meet up with either Brandywine Heights or Fleetwood in the consolation round. After their two-day stay in Fleetwood this week, the Braves will have one more nonleague tester, and it’s a good one too, as the Braves will tangle with Kennard-Dale next Thursday night at home in Kinzers. Following that matchup, PV will jump back in Section 3 play with a roadtrip to ELCO next Friday night.