Penn improved to 20-1 by dominating the first half of play and going on to defeat two-time defending sectional champion South Bend Adams 68-53 on Tuesday, March 5.
The Kingsmen will now face South Bend Washington, the only team to beat Penn this season, in the first sectional semifinal game at 6 p.m Friday, March 7.
"It’s just one win, we have a lot of work to do yet,’’ Rhodes said after the game. "We came out and played well in the sectional opener, which is good, but it’s still just one game.’’
Penn all but wrapped up the game early in the second quarter, when an 18-0 run _ that started at the 1:57 mark of the first quarter and was completed by eight straight points by junior Jordan Geist _ gave Penn a commanding 33-13 lead with 5:40 to play in the half.
"We just didn't play any defense during that stretch,'' Adams coach Milt Cooper said. "In my 33 years of coaching, this is the worst defensive team I've ever had. Now, I'll take the blame for that because we didn't work on individual or team defense enough. It really all comes back to me.
"We've also had problems all season offensively when we don't work together as a team to get good shots. I thought in the first half, and especially in the second quarter, we fell into that. We rushed shots and settled for jump shots rather than driving to the basket. That's not what we do best.''
Although they missed some shots in the lane early, the Kingsmen still played a near flawless first half, turning the ball over just twice, while hitting just under 50 percent from the field and taking a surprising 45-22 lead into halftime.
"I think the biggest key to getting that big lead was the way we took care of the basketball,'' Rhodes said. "Unfortunately, I think the kids forgot what uniforms we were wearing at halftime because they threw the ball to Adams on three of our first four possessions of the second half.''
Adams did make a couple of runs at Penn, as senior center Terry Davis scored 14 points in the second half on a variety of moves around the basket. However, the Eagles were never able to get closer than 14, that coming at the 5:41 mark of the fourth quarter.
"We didn't play great in the second half, but we had the lead and we were able to slide to the finish line,'' Rhodes said. "As long as we kept the lead within 15 or so, I felt pretty comfortable. Plus, we did a good job of hitting our free throws in the fourth quarter.''
Actually, Penn was outstanding all night from the line, hitting 16 of 17 from the charity stripe. Three of the biggest came when Geist was fouled at the first quarter buzzer on a long 3-pointer. The confident junior calmly hit all three free throws, pushing a nine-point Kingsmen lead to 12 with no other players on the court.
Geist would lead the Kingsmen with 24 points and nine rebounds, while classmate Billy Doslak added 17. The duo would score 18 of Penn's 20 points in the second quarter.
Davis ended his outstanding career at Adams with 20 points, while fellow senior Michael Bush chipped in 16.
Penn's shot at a perfect season was ruined by South Bend Washington on the same court in January, as the Panthers posted a 61-57 victory. Washington enters Friday's rematch with a 14-4 mark.
CLASS 4A SB WASHINGTON SECTIONAL
Penn 68, SB Adams 53
Adams — Brandon Wadley 2-6 0-1 4, Michael Bush 6-18 1-4 16, J’Anthony Gavin 1-2 0-1 3, Terry Davis 8-13 4-5 20, Jordan Simpson 1-7 2-2 5, Michael Green 0-2 0-0 0, Danny Pinter 1-1 0-0 2, Bryce Saxton 1-1 0-0 3, James Kelsey 0-1 0-0 0.. Totals: 20-51 (.394) 8-14 (.572) 53.
Penn— Jordan Geist 8-16 5-5 24, Billy Doslak 6-10 4-4 17, Ryan Lutz 2-9 3-4 7, Christian Wittendorf 3-6 0-0 6, Andrew Kimm 1-4 1-1 3, Taylor Brooks 2-3 3-3 7, Cory Kreiger 2-3 0-0 4, Nate Miller 0-1 0-0 0, . Totals: 24-52 (.462) 16-17 (.941) 68.
Scoring By Quarters
Adams — 13 9 16 15 — 53
Penn — 25 20 11 12 — 68
3-point goals: Adams (5-16) — Bush 3-8, Simpson 1-4, Saxton 1-1; Penn (4-9) — Geist 3-4, Doslak 1-1.
Rebounds: Adams (26) — Davis 6; Penn (30) — Geist 9.
Assists: Adams (5) — Bush 3; Penn (12) —Lutz 4 .
Steals: Adams (7) — Davis 4; Penn (9) — Doslak 3.
Turnovers: Adams 15, Penn 11.
Total fouls: Adams 16, Penn 13
Records: Penn 20-1, Adams 13-8..
Next: SB Washington vs. Penn, 6 p.m., SB Riley/SB Clay winner vs. Plymouth/Mishawaka winner, following, Friday, March, 7, in semifinals of Class 4A South Bend Washington Sectional.