They come from the big city but the West Philadelphia Speedboys never played in a gym with such a large crowd.
On Saturday afternoon in the PIAA boys 4A state tournament opener, the spacious Warwick High School gym was full with some 2,000 fans, most of them making noise for Lancaster Catholic, the District 3 4A champions whose campus is only 6 miles south.
The pro-Speedboys’ contingent numbered 100 or so who made the trip from Philly to Lititz.
This unchartered territory only challenged West Philly for the first eight minutes of the game.
The Speedboys scored the last four points of the first quarter to take a 11-9 into the second quarter.
It all settled in after that.
The Speedboys looked right at home building a 32-20 halftime lead and finishing the job in the second.
Led by 6-3 junior power forward Latrell Carroll, who scored 20 of his game-high 24 points and grabbed a half-dozen rebounds in the second half, the one-time Philadelphia Public League powerhouse West Philadelphia won its first-ever state playoff game 78-65 over Lancaster Catholic.
“I came out ready to play in the second half,” said Carroll. “I didn’t let the crowd get into my head as much as it did in the first half. We were prepared for a big crowd. It’s a real big win.”
Carroll drove the basket for layups and made both short and three-point jumpers. He couldn’t miss.
Lancaster Catholic has found answers all season dealing with teams who had quickness. The Crusaders defeated Lebanon for the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship and rallied to beat Middletown in the district final.
But the Speedboys are just that.
“We played at a much faster pace,” said Carroll. “Once we came out for the second half, we knew we were faster.”
Cyrie Coates scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, picking up Carroll until he got going. Dymeir Shackelford scored 14, Maxwell Brown had 12 and Malik Lorenson had 11 for the Speedboys, who face Wilkes Barre GAR in the second round on Tuesday.
Too many scorers for Lancaster Catholic to hold in-check.
Danny Bomberger led the Crusaders, whose 24-5 season ended, with 20 points. Jon Ware had 13 and Chad Wenger and Sean Landis each scored 12.