Quince Orchard senior Charles Porter got the start in a boys’ basketball game against Northwest on Thursday night, but a minute, 58 seconds into the game, the 5-foot-11 guard headed to the bench along with the other four players who began the game on the floor.
No, Porter and the other starters had not drawn the ire of Coach Paul Foringer. For the Cougars, the mass substitutions are part of the plan.
Porter scored 20 points that night as Quince Orchard won its seventh straight game, leading wire-to-wire in a 63-50 home victory over the Jaguars. The Cougars (7-3, 2-1 Montgomery 4A West) had the streak snapped with a 59-48 loss at 10th-ranked Magruder on Friday, but they are off to their best start in three seasons.
A year after winning eight games total, Quince Orchard has found its stride utilizing Foringer’s preferred 10-man rotation, which allows the team to push the tempo on both ends and wear down its opponents. Foringer said the Cougars have not had the personnel to consistently run the unique system since the 2009-10 season when they won 19 games.
“Now I have more energy to go,” said Porter, who has averaged a team-best 17.5 points per game. “I know someone’s going to sub in for me and give the same effort.”
To get an advantage playing that style, Foringer needs the right mix of players. For most of the game, shifts last approximately three minutes before changing out the entire lineup. Often, the coach switches the defensive look at the mass substitution to accentuate the strengths of the next group.
Two years ago, Quince Orchard had too much size and not enough speed to regularly run Foringer’s trapping half-court defense. Last year’s squad struggled to buy into the team concept and the coach didn’t have enough talent to feel comfortable going with a 10-man rotation.
But Foringer could see this year’s group had the potential to use the system effectively. The junior varsity squad had responded well to being similarly broken up into units last winter, and when Foringer started utilizing a 10-man rotation during summer league, Porter and the other returning varsity players demonstrated the right attitude to make it work.
“This year, it’s all about the team,” Foringer said. “It doesn’t matter who scores the points. It doesn’t matter who makes the assists. It doesn’t matter who gets the rebounds. It’s about working together and winning.”
Senior Eric Hoadley (11.7 ppg) is the only player other than Porter averaging more than five points per game. In Thursday’s win over Northwest, several Quince Orchard players battled foul trouble, throwing off the rotation, but the Cougars still showcased the depth that makes them dangerous with 11 players scoring in the game’s first three quarters.
Afterward, Porter proudly noted that the team has adopted the same motto as the team three years ago that lost just one game against county competition. The players have “relentless” emblazoned on their red warmup shirts as a reminder of the attitude they should bring to each of their short stints on the floor.
“Five in, five out – that’s the way coach wants us to play,” Porter said. “The last few years we weren’t able to do it because we didn’t have a total team effort. Now we have that.”