ASTON – A year ago, Chris Kwaidah was one of Delco’s most prolific 3-point shooters during his junior days at Sun Valley.
One year older than him, Kuwaida still has a strong shooting touch. But the frying pan surrounding his long-range ability is far more complete, so in games like his 66-59 victory over Merion in the upper part of Saturday, back-to-back 3-pointers in the 4th quarter were the Vikings’ rallies. You might have expected it to stem the flow of one is a face-to-face transition triple.
But other plays that made the difference, such as Kwaidah swooping in and putting back to score a -1 in the Vanguard’s hard-fought first half, are new facets of his game. Hope is born that Vanguard can reach a new level this postseason.
Kwaidah led all scorers with 22 points. In a non-league clash of teams ranked 9th and 12th in the District 1 Class 5A Power Rankings, 16 came in the first half when Sun Valley led by as much as 25 to take a 40-20 lead over the sleepwalking visiting Vikings. Then he added his two triples and put the game away in his final three minutes when his Merion charged back to within 55-52 of his upper.
“It’s just an experience,” said Kwaida. “It’s all about experience. We know the pain from all the losses from last year, so we’re using that to lift us up now. We’ve got a lot of experience now.”
Kwaidah shot 8-for-14 from the field and 5-for-7 from 3-point range. Like last year, the lanky senior guard can achieve separation from the dribble or be a strong off-ball his option. (The latter aspect is helped by guards Todd Harper and Noah Griffin’s much improved getting to the rim off the bounce.)
But he added to his repertoire. He tallied a game-high eight rebounds on Saturday as Sun Valley led him 32-23 (11-6). He added his 3 blocks.
Some of these trends carry over from last year. (Of those 3-pointers going 61-52, “That pullup transition 3, you did exactly what you did last year.”) A late run by Upper Merrion (9-9).
“Definitely not a concern,” said Kwaida. “Me, Todd and Noah, we are the captains. We have to build the team. Bucky[Grayston]talks all the time. We just have to turn up the energy. We can’t lose.” I know, I have no choice but to fight hard.”
The Vikings couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. It was 20-6 after one quarter. From a 3-3 draw, Sun Valley made his 32-for-7 run and Harper hit a bucket midway through his second to make him 35-for-10.
Upstairs Merion adjusted the spread to 20 at the break and then slashed. They stopped giving the ball – in the first half he limited himself to six after nine turnovers, in the second half he let Sun Valley he turned over 11 more after the break. And then they started applying pressure in the half-court zone.
Turned into an easy bucket to get within 7 by the start of the 4th inning. Upper Merion made seven of his nine shots in the opening of the fourth quarter, coming within three.
Guard Devon Nelson said, “This is going pretty well.” “As soon as you start topping near the half court, everything starts to get easier. Did.”
Nelson scored 19 of 21 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers to force Sun Valley out of the zone. Josh Zimmerman also played a role, with him and his fellow Big Devin Swayze tapping into the soft middle with nine points each, Nick his smiley adding his six points and his six assists. Nelson’s putback with 4:09 left brought UM as close as possible.
Kwaida had an answer. Harper, who had a team-high four steals, scored four of eight points in the fourth. At 55-52, Kwaida maintained possession on the attacking board, heading to the wing and stopping Kaiden from jumping he received a pass from Robinson.
Griffin, who scored 16 of 20 points in the first half, dived into the passing lane on the next possession and set up Kwaida’s Transition 3 to build a 61-52 lead, just enough to break Upper Merion’s resolve. .
In the Central League:
Radnor 56, Penncrest 27 >> This was the Raptors’ 19th straight win to start the season, with 10 players scoring points on Saturday. Jackson Hicke scored his 11th, Charlie Thornton his 10th, Jackson Gaffney his nine and Alex McFadden scored his career-high eight.
Marple Newtown 74, Strath Haven 64 >> The Tigers made 14 3-pointers to lead Matt Girdler’s 6 and lead all scorers with 32 points.
Daron Fitzinger-Miller scored 13, Steve Hamson scored 11 and Steen Tansey scored 10.
Jaden Jauregui kept in touch with Strath Haven, scoring 26 points in the second half and 33 overall in the game. Jack Edwards and Matt Jones added 11 each.
Haverford 50, Conestoga 35 >> Googie Seidman scored all 11 points of the 3rd quarter for Ford as Haverford (9-9, 5-8) held the Pioneers to 3 points in the frame and 2 games out. I finished the skid.
Seidman led all scorers with 32 points. Tommy Wright scored eight points.
Springfield 45, Hariton 37 >> Mike O’Donnell and Colin Trude scored 15 points each, and the Cougars (8-11, 7-6) pulled off big wins for their playoff ambitions. Mike Hoey adds 6 points.
Lower Merion 71, Upper Derby 56 >> Niymire Brown scored 23 points and Nadir Myers added 22, but the Royals (12-6, 8-5) are unable to outscore the Aces was.
In the Bicentennial League:
Delko Christian 68, Morrisville 52 >> Bo Rilen hit four 3-pointers for a game-high 20 points as the Knights (10-8, 8-2) won late Friday.
Josiah Gaines scored 14, Kamai Orange scored 13 and Caleb Jameson scored 10. Knights shot from the free-throw line, 26-33.