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Upper Dublin Defeats Sun Valley 55-25 in PIAA District 1 Class 5A Playoff Semifinal: Kehler on Hoop

Upper Dublin Defeats Sun Valley 55-25 in PIAA District 1 Class 5A Playoff Semifinal: Kehler on Hoop

Written by: Dell Jackson on February 25, 2024


Upper Dublin Defeats Sun Valley 55-25 in PIAA District 1 Class 5A Playoff Semifinal: Kehler on Hoops
Article by David Kehler

Upper Dublin shredded visiting Sun Valley’s 1-3-1 zone defense in the third quarter of a PIAA District 1 Class 5A playoff semifinal on Saturday afternoon en route to a 55 to 25 mercy rule victory. Four different Upper Dublin players combined for six 3-pointers in the third frame, a quarter in which Upper Dublin outscored Sun Valley 26 to 2. Sun Valley couldn’t recover from the barrage.

The view from here is that the 1-3-1 zone defense is difficult for high school players to master. To be effective, the defense requires defenders to slide quickly into defensive positions as the offense moves the ball looking for scoring opportunities. It’s often difficult for high school players to execute the slides correctly.

The 1-3-1 zone defense was developed by Clair Bee in the late 1930s. At the time, Bee was the coach of then-national power Long Island U. Bee was one of basketball’s great innovators, wrote several coaching manuals (and ghost authored a few for other coaches), and is justly enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Some will remember Bee as the author of the Chip Hilton series of boys sports fiction. It’s important to keep in mind that Coach Bee developed the 1-3-1 defense decades before the adoption of the 3-point shot rule.

There are some inherent weaknesses in the 1-3-1. Defenders are usually not in good rebounding position. In the Upper Dublin-Sun Valley game, in which Sun Valley played the 1-3-1 defense for almost all of the game, Sun Valley had only eight defensive rebounds. Of course, Upper Dublin’s shooting accuracy contributed to that statistic, too. The 1-3-1 is not ideal to defend against shots from four points on the floor: the corners at the baseline and the ares parallel to the top of the key toward the sides of the court. As it happens, these are spots from which typical high school players practice shooting. Upper Dublin thrived in shooting from these spots on Saturday afternoon vs. Sun Valley. More than anything, in high school ball, the 1-3-1 zone is vulnerable to teams with multiple catch-and-shoot players who can get a shot off quickly. Upper Dublin is a team like that.

The Upper Dublin-Sun Valley game got off to a rocky start, with the teams combining for eight turnovers in the first four minutes of the contest. The play was generally choppy throughout the first quarter. Four Upper Dublin players scored in the first frame, including a 3-pointer each by 6’ 4” junior Idris Rines and by 6’ 4” senior Brady Fogle. However, Sun Valley tied the game at 10 late in the first period on a pivot play by 6’ 4” senior Blaise Eldridge and a putback by Eldridge.

Sun Valley’s scoring run continued at the outset of the second quarter with two free throws by 5’ 10” junior Aaron Freeman and a fast break layup by 6’ senior Justin Hickman. That made it 14 to 10, Sun Valley. At that point, Upper Dublin launched a 12 to 0 run, consisting of a floater by 6’ 3” junior Ryan Mulroy, a steal and a dunk by Mulroy, a jumper by Mulroy, a 3-pointer by Mulroy, and a 3-pointer by Fogle. That made it 22 to 14 in favor of Upper Dublin, and Sun Valley called a timeout. That timeout was helpful to Sun Valley, and they closed the scoring in the first half with two hoops by 5’ 10” senior Noah Griffin. Upper Dublin led 22 to 18 at halftime.

Upper Dublin exploited the vulnerabilities of Sun Valley’s 1-3-1 zone defense in the third quarter, a frame in which they held the visitors to two points—a pair of free throws by Griffin. Upper Dublin began the second half scoring with a 3-pointer by Rines; a 3-pointer by Mulroy; and, after a Sun Valley timeout, another 3-pointer by Rines, this one from the right baseline corner. That made it 31 to 18 in favor of Upper Dublin. At that point, Sun Valley scored their only points of the quarter on Griffin’s free throws. Then, Upper Dublin launched a 17 to 0 run on a 3-pointer by 5’ 10” sophomore Kobe Bazemore from the right baseline corner, a 3-pointer by Fogle, another 3-pointer by Fogle, two free throws by Bazemore, a reverse layup by 5’ 10” sophomore Noah Cohen, a baseline jumper by Cohen, and a fast break layup by Mulroy. Sun Valley stayed in their 1-3-1 throughout this barrage. The mercy rule was triggered with 5:20 left in the game.

Upper Dublin out-rebounded Sun Valley 30 to 16. Upper Dublin had ball security problems in the first half. They finished with 13 turnovers to 11 miscues by Sun Valley. Upper Dublin was two of two from the free throw line, and Sun Valley was five of 10 from the stripe. Upper Dublin scored 11 times from beyond the arc, while Sun Valley made two 3-pointers. There were two ties and four lead changes.

Upper Dublin scoring: Ryan Mulroy 16, Brady Fogle 12, Idris Rines 9, Kobe Bazemore 7, Brandon Altman 4, Noah Cohen 4, James Castronuovo 3.

Sun Valley scoring: Noah Griffin 9, Kaiden Robinson 8, Blaise Eldridge 4, Aaron Freeman 2, and Justin Hickman 2.

Sun Valley          10    8    2    5   –  25
Upper Dublin    10   12  26    7  – 55

Upper Dublin will play Unionville on Thursday for the PIAA District 1 Class 5A championship. Both Upper Dublin and Sun Valley have qualified for the PIAA Class 5A state championship tournament. For those unfamiliar with these schools, Upper Dublin is located in Fort Washington, and Sun Valley is in Aston in Delaware County.

On Twitter: @david_kehler



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