By Matthew DeGeorge
If you could look beyond the shoddy end-of-game execution, Wednesday night’s Central League meeting between Penncrest and Garnet Valley was just about perfect.
Two coaching staffs that had scouted each other within an inch of their lives. Two squads getting contributions from up and down the roster. Thirty-two minutes of clean, defensive basketball, with an extra 12 tacked on just because everyone was having so much fun.
And a final irony that the only one of the five end-of-game chances to be converted — Aidan Carroll’s second-chance 3-pointer at the buzzer of the third overtime — mattered none to the final outcome.
Despite Garnet Valley spurning chances to win at the end of regulation, the first overtime and twice in the second OT, the Jaguars managed to hold on, 64-62, in a loony three-overtime contest between two of the top teams in District 1’s Class 6A and 5A rankings.
Even before tip-off, there was intrigue. Wednesday was the first game back for Neel Beniwal, the Jags’ second-leading scorer last year, who had missed seven games with tendinitis in his knee while dealing with a torn ligament in his left pinkie. Perhaps the basketball gods just wanted to give Beniwal more time on the court, and he obliged with a game-best 20 points, despite just 2-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.