Muhlenberg defeats Unionville in first round of PIAA Class 5A boys basketball playoffs
Mar. 11—KENNETT SQUARE — After three quarters, Muhlenberg was down two points against Unionville Friday night
But the Muhls turned up their defense and put together a decisive run in the fourth quarter to defeat the Longhorns 64-54 in a PIAA Class 5A first-round game Friday.
"When you talk about brotherhood, brotherhood takes over teams," Muhlenberg coach Matthew Flowers said. "We came in the fourth quarter down two. I believe a senior (Josh Alcantara) hit a big 3 and then our defense just turned on. The rest is history."
Alcantara finished with a career-high 19 points to help the Muhls (18-10) rally for the win. Muhlenberg outscored the Longhorns 27-15 in the final quarter.
"We just told each other to stay together," Alcantara said about what his team talked about going into the fourth. "We have always had that brotherhood since we were younger. So, we trust each other and we love each other. We stayed connected."
After a quick 3-pointer from District 1 runner-up Unionville (22-6), Alcantara answered with his own 3-pointer to start the game-turning, 21-4 run.
After Alcantara's 3, Michael Miller and Luis Valentin each made 3s on the next two Muhls' possessions. Miller scored nine of his 15 points in the run.
The Muhls forced 18 turnovers, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
"We were careless with the ball," Unionville coach Chris Cowles said of his team's fourth-quarter performance. "We didn't do our normal foundation stuff. We had to start pressing and kind of getting out of our natural character. So, obviously, they're going to be at an advantage with the personnel on the court. Honestly, it was a disappointing end."
The Muhls, the fifth-place team from District 3, made 10 three-pointers, five by Alcantara.
"Just felt like, 'Keep going,' " Alcantara said. "I felt the energy. I felt like my teammates believed in me and I just loved the atmosphere."
"It's all about confidence with that kid," Flowers said of Alcantara. "I believe teams underestimate him because he looks like he can't shoot. The more he's open and the more he's confident, his confidence continues to build. He's going to keep knocking them down; the kid can shoot."
Valentin finished with 12 points for the Muhls, who earned their first PIAA win since 2020, the last time they qualified.
Muhlenberg will play Imhotep Charter, an 85-33 winner over Holy Ghost Prep Friday, in a second-round game Tuesday, site and time to be announced.
Robbie Logan scored 19 points, Charlie Kammeier had 12 and Nick Diehl 11 for the Longhorns.
The game began with the teams trading baskets throughout the first quarter.
Muhlenberg's Dan Mosquera scored all seven of his points in the first. The Longhorns got their first lead with only a minute left in the quarter.
The second quarter began similarly to the first before Logan, a senior, hit a 3-pointer while getting fouled with 4:54 remaining in the half.
Logan missed the ensuing free throw, but the Longhorns got a 3-pointer from JT Anderson on their next possession.
It looked like the game might be slipping away from the Muhls, but they trimmed a seven-point deficit to 29-27 at halftime.
"Told them they had to muck it up and make it grimy and nasty," Flowers said about what he told the Muhls going into the game. "First half, I don't think we did that. Second half, we came out and our defensive pressure was pretty good."
The third quarter was a defensive battle as each team scored just 10 points. The Muhls went to a fullcourt press with 3:05 remaining in the frame.
Unionville went into the fourth quarter leading 39-37 and looking to put away Muhlenberg.
The Muhls had other plans.