Monstars players Mike Connolly and Ryan Connolly work together trying to block a shot by Pippen Ain't Easy's Bob Stanley in Monday night's Upper Perkiomen Summer Basketball championship game.
After five seasons of knocking on the door only to be turned away by a perennial power, The Monstars claimed their first Upper Perkiomen Summer Basketball championship Monday, downing Pippen Ain’t Easy by a score of 82-66.
The top two seeds entering the postseason, the Monstars and Pippen seemed destined to meet in the finals after the five-time defending champion Ambassadors were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Pippen Ain’t Easy would draw first blood Monday, racing out to an early 7-3 lead just minutes into the contest. The Monstars would respond in a big way, however, going on an 11-0 run over the next eight minutes to take a 14-7 lead with 15 minutes to play in the half. The run was capped by Jim Connolly, who drilled a pair of deep three’s to rip momentum away from Pippen.
Trailing 34-27 late in the first stanza, Pippen’s Brendan Stanton splashed in back-to-back triples to trim the deficit to just one at the break. Stanton had nine points in the first half, while Connolly had a game-high 12 for the Monstars.
Despite watching their lead nearly vanish just before halftime, the Monstars remained calm and confident, opening up a 43-38 lead less than five minutes into the second period. Their lead would balloon to as much as 10 just moments later, when Connolly drained yet another long three.
When asked about his outstanding individual performance, Connolly was quick to acknowledge his teammates as well. “We had great ball movement all night long, and they found me some great open looks.”
Sterling Lacey would put together a strong second half in the post for Pippen, but the Monstars outside attack proved to be too much, as the margin grew to 16 with just under four minutes to play in the game. The final dagger came with 3:30 remaining, when Mike Connolly nailed a contested three to give the Monstars a commanding 80-59 lead.
Jim Connolly led all scorers with 22 points for the Monstars, while Rob Pines chipped in 16 points and Mike Connolly added 14. Lacey had a team-high 14 points for Pippen, while Connor Hough added 12 and Dan Werth netted 11. Brendan Stanton scored just four points in the second half en route to 13 for the game.
For the Monstars, this marks their first title since joining the league in 2008. “It feels so good to finally break through after five seasons” said Monstars captain Mike Kennedy. While Pippen Ain’t Easy can take solace in a 2012 regular season championship, the team is still seeking that elusive first crown after eight seasons of play. Said Pippen captain Jon Lord, “It’s always disappointing to come this close and lose, but it will be great motivation for next year”.