Inspector Gadget has nothing on Thomas Sorber.
Friday night at Bensalem High School, the 6-foot-10 Archbishop Ryan junior saved his best “go-go-gadget arm” maneuver almost for last, blocking a late corner three-pointer that helped secure the Raiders’ 69-65 victory against Radnor in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals.
The win sets up a rematch with Imhotep Charter at 7 pm Monday at St. Joseph’s Prep. The Panthers beat the Raiders, 69-58, earlier this month.
On Friday night, Ryan senior guard Darren Williams led all scorers with 28 points, including 19 in the first half. Sorber finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. His nine blocked shots, however, may have been the most important.
“He plays defense like that almost every game,” Ryan coach Joe Zeglinski said postgame. “It’s such an advantage for us because we can really pressure the ball and guys don’t want to go in there to deep …”
Later, he added: “He just erases everything. I don’t know if there’s been a better shot blocker in the area in a long time. He’s special obviously on the defensive end, especially.”
With about 39 seconds left and the Raiders (16-10) clinging to a three-point lead, Radnor senior Danny Rosenblum rebounded a missed free throw then backpedaled to the corner for a three-pointer in front of his own bench.
When Rosenblum gathered to shoot, Sorber still had a foot in the paint. It may have seemed inconceivable to most that he could contest the shot, let alone actually making a block.
Size-16 shoes, however, cover more ground than most. Long strides from a 6-10 frame couldn’t have hurt either. And long arms; can’t forget about those. Likewise, don’t sleep on the brains that coordinate the whole package.
“I knew he had a slow release,” Sorber said, “so you got to know about the player before you know who you’re attacking. I knew he had a slow release, so I knew my long body could go and get it.”
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The block was nearly a perfect bookend. Sorber blocked Radnor’s first two shots of the game. In fact, he had seven blocks at half time.
“It’s a relief knowing that teams really have to earn their buckets at the rim,” said Williams, who also had a key defensive strip on Radnor senior Jackson Hicke (Princeton) that forced a late turnover. Hicke finished with 14 points after early foul trouble. Senior Jackson Gaffney led the previously unbeaten Raptors (28-1), the District 1 champions, with 21 points off the bench.
Zeglinski added that Sorber had learned how to better avoid fouls while still blocking shots. When opponents took shots last season, Sorber would often lunge, a known trigger for a referee’s whistle.
Sorber has also gotten into a better shape, Zeglinski said.
“His timing is unreal,” the coach said. “He’s really had that the whole time, but I think he just got in really good shape this year so he’s able to really contest every shot now. Last year he would get tired because he played pretty much the whole game. This year he’s in a better shape and he’s able to finish games for us on the defensive end.”