Upper Perk's Joshua Wynder passes the ball away as a group of Phoenixville defenders close in on him in last Friday night's home game.
The battle on the hardwood last Friday between the Indians and the visitors from Phoenixville lasted the full 32 minutes, and for the first 31 of those minutes, it appeared that the Tribe boys’ basketball squad was going to post their first win of the young season.
That plan though was shattered when Phoenixville’s Greg Hughes hit a pull-up jumper from just outside the paint with only three seconds remaining in the game and the Phantoms escaped with a 56-54 win.
“This one hurts,” senior captain J.D. Ricapito said. “We played hard, real hard, the entire game. We really thought we had this one. Our first couple games we were flat in the second half, but tonight, tonight we thought we had this one.”
Ricapito and his teammates had every reason to feel good about their chances as they took control early in the game.
The Indians were on fire in the first quarter making 7-8 from the floor, including three of four from three-point range. They had put together a 10-point run as Chandler Junk drilled back-to-back three pointers and Ricapito scored almost at will from the paint.
When the first quarter ended the Indians held a 17-13 lead.
The Tribe stayed hot through the second quarter going 5-7 from the field. Chad Force nailed all three of his attempts, including a pair of threes. When the teams went to the locker room, Upper Perk held an eight-point edge, 30-22.
The Tribe would be tested in the third quarter when foul trouble sent a pair of Indian starters to the bench. From there they were forced to watch for nearly the entire quarter. However, when the Phantoms could only narrow the gap by a bucket, it appeared that Upper Perk had weathered the storm.
When Junk pumped in the first basket of the fourth quarter, the Indians lead was again eight points, and when the game neared the two-minute mark it was still five.
However, the game would begin to turn in the closing minutes as the Phantoms took advantage of offensive rebounds, getting two and three attempts each time down the court. When Upper Perk could only capitalize on 50 percent of their free throws, the Phantoms tied the game at 54, and found themselves in possession of the ball with time running out.
When Hughes' shot found the bottom of the net with three seconds remaining the Indians somehow found themselves trailing by a basket, and when the half-court shot at the buzzer failed, the Tribe had fallen by a bucket.
“We played well,” Upper Perk head coach Ed Lapinski said. “It was a performance to be proud of. We thought we had this one. Give No. 23 (Hughes) credit; he made the shot when he had to.”
The Tribe will play their next PAC-10 game tonight when they host Pope John Paul at 7:30 p.m.