Bucks County Herald

Spartan boys ground George School

DON LEYPOLDT

Conde Nast-y.

Behind Ryan Conde’s monster debut on Friday night, the Solebury School Spartans pulled away from the George School Cougars to win in the first round of their tip-off tournament, 62-49.

Small forward Conde, Solebury’s only non-returning starter, led the Spartans in both points (21) and assists (six).

“I’ve known most of these guys since I was a little kid,” Conde pointed out.

“Growing up with them and playing basketball with them, I sort of knew how they worked. Over the summer, working together, we learned how we can jell, who does what and how we can work it out throughout the season.”

The Spartans swept George School last season, but the Cougars took an 18-11 lead after Charlie Trey-Masters sunk the third Cougars three of the first quarter.

“We slowed down. I feel in the first half, we rushed the tempo, which we didn’t have to do,” Solebury point guard Troy McGregor admitted. “We listened to our coach who tells us every day, ‘Trust the process and just get through everything.’

We stayed composed as a team.”

Midway through the second quarter, Solebury captain Devon Brewster hit a jumper and a three to trim the lead to 24-23. Jacob Gleason got a steal and fed McGregor whose driving lay-up put the Spartans on top 25-24.

George School hit the first basket of the second half, taking a 29-27 lead, but Conde answered with a three-point play and then assisted on a Brewster three.

“Nine times out of 10, I’ll attack the basket. I’ll try and get my teammates open for a drive-and-kick-type situation,” Conde explained. “And I grew up playing big, so I like to get to the glass. That’s my go-to.”

Solebury had a 39-37 lead midway through the third quarter when Brewster drew his fourth foul and had to sit. Yet, the Spartans held serve. A flurry of McGregor and Conde baskets, mixed with tough defense, widened the lead to 53-47 when Brewster re-entered.

“I definitely had to step up on the scoring end since losing Devon is a big piece of our team,” McGregor said. “I’m up to the challenge.”

“I wanted to play hard for my teammates,” added forward Luca Naughton, who scored six points. “I wanted to step up and play hard ‘D’ and that translated offensively to going out a lot on breaks.”

“The first thing you’re looking for is effort,” Solebury head coach Cleve Christie explained. “You want to see that they value the basketball, how they can adjust to our gameplan and how they respond. That was part of the situation when we lost Devon, our leading scorer. The rest of the guys stepped up and played good defense.”

Brewster tallied 20 points; McGregor added 15 with four assists. Defensively, George School managed just one two-point basket in the fourth quarter.

“We were talking – Ryan, me and whoever was down there at the time – on who were their cutters, who was in the paint, middle or whatever,” Naughton said. “The communication really helps out in guarding the post.”

“I think that zone kind of bothered them despite their having those good shooters,” Christie continued. “We limited them to one shot. If it went in, it went in, but ... we rebounded from the zone.”

The Spartans were 3-0 at presstime. They beat The Pennington School, which hung 90 points on Princeton Day School in Friday’s opener, 68-64, in Saturday’s final.

Solebury defeated Pine Forge, 81-42, on Tuesday.

Solebury will concede size to most teams this year, but Brewster and McGregor are a formidable backcourt. Conde showed his stuff on Friday, and Naughton and Gleason add lunch-pail defense.

“We have to put the emphasis on defense,” said Christie, who kicked off his 35th season at Solebury’s helm. “We might be smaller a lot of times. But if we keep the defense going, then you keep the game within reach.”

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