Panthers Down Spartans to Win Second Straight

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By Scott Huff
SPRINGFIELD – Last season’s numbers were brutal – almost painful to recall – for both William Tennent and Springfield.
Tennent finished the 2008-2009 basketball season with a record of 1-21, while the Spartans matched the Panthers with an identical 1-21 mark. The lone win for Tennent came against Pennridge – another 1-21 team. The lone win for Springfield came against the Renaissance Academy – which did not win a game all season.
“We had a lot of hard times last season and not a lot of success,” said William Tennent head coach Rob Mulville after his Panthers (7-5) knocked off host Springfield (3-9), 66-50. “But this season the players have been making a lot of sacrifices for the benefit of the team.
“The players on the team seem to be buying into what we want to get done,” added Mulville. “I feel really good about our seniors experiencing some success this season.”
Two of those seniors are Chris Weise and Dan Eckhardt. Weise led all scorers in the win over Springfield with 21 points, while Eckhardt provided floor leadership and chipped in with six points.
“Winning definitely makes basketball more enjoyable,” said Weise. “Winning also makes gives you more motivated to play in the games and go to practice.
“We haven’t been winning, but now that we are winning we have more students come out for our games,” added Weise. “It is a lot more fun to play in front of a crowd.”
“Now we don’t play with our heads down,” said Eckhardt. “It seems like every game is coming down to the end, and that makes it exciting.”
The win over the Spartans was the second straight for the Panthers, who have won three of their last four. Their only loss was a 44-42 Suburban One League National Conference loss to first place Neshaminy.
 Tennent – which is unbeaten in non-league games but is only 1-5 within the National Conference – was coming off a conference victory over Council Rock South – 61-55.
“The win over South and the close loss to Neshaminy shows teams in our league that we can compete and play hard,” said Weise. “Everyone seems to be fired up to play – and we will compete with the teams in our league.”
“There is enough talent on this team for us to keep up with every team in our league,” said Eckhardt. “We don’t have a single huge scorer – everyone contributes.”
“It has been great to play important minutes in the fourth quarter,” said Mulville. “We have been put in situations where we can be successful, and that has been a big part of them growing as a basketball team.”
For the Spartans, a 3-9 record may not look like a terrific record – but it sure beats 1-21.
“We have stepped back to the level where we are competitive,” said veteran Springfield head coach Jack Spinella. “There were a couple of games that we could have won this year and didn’t. 
“Last year we were not too competitive in many of the games,” added Spinella – who began on the Spartan bench in 1972, coached at Springfield until 1989 and returned after a coaching odyssey last season. “The fun part of the game is being in the game in the fourth quarter. I’ve had to coach this team in the fourth quarter this year.”
The good news for the Spartans is that they are more competitive – the bad news is that the top three players are seniors. Chris Crudele, Kyrone Greene, and Malcom Hill will not return next season.
Spinella knows success – there is a 1984 District One basketball championship banner that is hung on the gymnasium wall.
“We hope to get more numbers of players out,” said Spinella. “We are going to rebuild this program.”
One win at a time. Hoops Ticker
Bensalem (6-5) received a 20-point scoring effort from Nick Christian as the Owls flew to a 60-42 non-league win over Glen Mills (5-5). Liam Kirgan (11) and Ivan Flores (10) also scored in twin digits for Bensalem ----- Central Bucks South (8-5) continues to impress as the Titans defeated Upper Darby (5-7) in a non-league contest, 52-39. CBS was led by Mike Pincus with 15 points and Sean Kummer with 10 markers ----- Central Bucks West (7-5) battled Upper Perkiomen (6-8) in a low scoring affair – won by the Bucks, 39-35. Patrick Furst led CBW with 14 points, while Ryan Fiore chipped in with 13 points ----- Upper Merion (5-8) lost in double overtime to Phoenixville (3-9), 84-79. The Vikings were led by Francis Rafferty who scored a career high 35 points ----- Quakertown (7-5) made a trip to Easton and lost by a 68-44 margin. The Panthers were led in scoring by Rick Kivela with 18 points, while Dalton Nice added 13 points.
William Tennent-Springfield boxscore
William Tennent              16   16   16   18   -      66
Springfield                10   8    9    23   -      50
William Tennent (66) - Jerry Crompton 1; Dan Eckhardt 6; Mike Horn 2; Skakat Kofa 13; Jack Rauchut 12; Ryan Smith 2; Sawyer Waugh 6; Chris Weise 21; Tyrone Whiteside 3.
 Springfield (50) – Brandon Stepney 10; Christian Morrison 4; Ryan Lightcap 6; Malcom Hill 17; Kyrone Greene 6; Chris Crudele 7.