by Tom Utescher
Ringing up a total of 30 points, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy seventh-grader Mo’ne Davis powered the visiting Lions to a 42-29 victory over the girls varsity team at Norwood Fontbonne Academy last Wednesday.
Host NFA played much better in the second half after falling behind 20-5 at halftime, but Davis proved unstoppable throughout the afternoon.
After suffering serious graduation losses from their 2012-13 ballclub, the Bears have gotten off to an 0-5 start this season. With Wednesday’s outcome, SCH improved to 5-1, with its only setback a 57-51 loss to the middle school team at the Academy of Notre Dame.
SCH eighth-grader Allie Kitchell, a multi-sport athlete who already was running with the varsity cross country team this fall, opened the scoring at Norwood by immediately driving to the hoop. The first basket of the day for Davis followed, but Norwood gave the home fans hope as they tied the contest at 4-4 with field goals by Molly Visco and Kara Kniezewski.
Unfortunately for the Bears and their supporters, only one more point appeared on the home side of the scoreboard before halftime. The lone free throw was made by forward Alyssa Slovensky, the only eighth grader in the young NFA line-up.
Meanwhile, SCH had finished the opening quarter with a 13-4 advantage, as Davis hit a short jumper at the buzzer while being fouled, and then made the resulting free throw as well. She finished the first half with 14 points, leading the Lions to a 15-point margin at the break.
The visitors did not have to step hard on the gas after that, but even considering that fact, Norwood played with more intensity and confidence in the second half. Slovensky christened the third quarter with a score off of a rebound, and would wind up sinking nine of her 10 total points in the last two periods of the game.
Kniezewski, the point guard, had 11 of her team-high 13 after the intermission, tossing in three three-point field goals for the hosts. Still, whenever NFA got too close, Davis was able to redress the balance for the Lions. When a short jumper by Aydin McPhilemy got Norwood within eight points of the leaders with two minutes left in the third period, Davis put up all the points in a 9-0 SCH run that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
Backing up Davis, Kitchell divided her eight points for the day evenly between the two halves, while Liz Moore, still only a sixth-grader, finished with four. Moore had come off of the bench for the winners; the other starters besides Davis and Kitchell were Erin McMahon, Julia Schwenderman, and Haley Unthank.
Not all of Norwood’s opponents will be this strong, and the offensive output shown by the Bears in the second half was an improvement over earlier outings this season. Joining Kniezewski, Slovensky, McPhilemy, and Visco in the NFA starting line-up was Mary Kate Ciolko (two points).