by Tom Utescher
After making a respectable showing in a loss to the host school in Upper Dublin High School’s Holiday Basketball Tournament last Friday, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy fumbled away a double-digit lead in the second-half of Saturday’s consolation game.
After falling behind in the fourth quarter against Villa Joseph Marie of Newtown, the Blue Devils were able to regroup and force the game into overtime, where they eventually prevailed, 37-34. This victory, together with the 54-42 setback against Upper Dublin, let the Devils get back to even of the start of the new year, at 5-5 overall.
In the tournament opener on Friday, 18 points from junior guard Deja Rawls helped Abington power past Villa Joe, 59-28.
Entering the second game at the event undefeated at 5-0, Upper Dublin didn’t find easy going against SCH, even though the Blue Devils played without 6’1” Chloe Burns, a freshman starter who was out sick on Friday, but suited up to play in Saturday’s consolation contest.
After ending the first quarter with just a one-point edge, 12-11, the Flying Cardinals began to pull away. Senior forward Regan Gallagher, who played for Mount St. Joseph Academy in her first two years of high school, put up 14 of her game-high 21 points in the first half as the home team arrived at the intermission with a 24-17 lead.
Although SCH lacked some of its usual presence in the paint, junior forward Olivia Byron labored hard under the boards, while the Devils’ outside shooters were responsible for most of the point production.
Sophomores Lindsay Hiner and Marissa Pownall popped in five and three triples, respectively, during the affair.
Upper Dublin’s own outside ace, senior Kayla McAneney, didn’t hit from distance in the first half, but accumulated nine of her 16 total points on three treys after the interlude.
She helped the Cardinals push their lead into double figures in the third quarter and then keep it there. They were up 39-27 at the three-quarter mark, and the two teams traded points during a 15-15 fourth quarter.
Upper Dublin ended up with a third double-digit scorer, receiving 10 points from junior forward Julie Cross, who has already made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Syracuse. Hiner had a team-high 17 points for SCH, while Pownall finished up with nine and Byron made all six of her free throws and scored eight points altogether.
Upper Dublin would go on to pull out a dramatic victory over Abington in Saturday’s championship game. The Cardinals cruised into the fourth quarter with an 11-point margin, but the Ghosts rallied furiously, drawing within a single point (46-45) with 20 seconds to go as Rawls tacked on a free throw after a driving lay-up.
Hitting three of four foul shots in the last nine seconds, Upper Dublin’s McAneney iced a 49-45 win and finished with a game-high 18 points. Cross contributed 10 points, and Gallagher, the former Mountie, posted nine points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks, earning the tournament MVP award. Abington’s Rawls wound up with 14 points as did teammate Michael Harris, a senior forward who has verbally committed to American University.
Before that Suburban One League showdown, SCH took on Villa Joe in the tournament’s consolation game. Burns was back in action for the Blue Devils (coming off the bench), but now Byron was missing. Both teams gave an early indication that no portion of this game video would ever be used in an instructional film. After more than four minutes of missed shots and turnovers by the two ballclubs, Villa Joe’s Mary Kate Ridgeway put the first points on the board with a short jumper. SCH’s Hiner responded with back-to-back three-pointers, and the Blue Devils took an 8-4 lead into the second period after getting a late lay-up from Pownall.
Schumacher and junior forward Katie Shields joined in on the scoring early in the second round. Later on, Pownall and Hiner each struck from the three-point loop. Up 20-11 at halftime, the Devils could’ve been in an even stronger position if they hadn’t shot just two-for-nine from the foul line.
Still, they were able to lift their lead into double figures when Schumacher drove the lane a little over a minute into the third quarter. SCH soon plummeted from this 22-11 perch (the largest margin of the day for either squad). Hitting two three-point buckets and a slightly shorter jumper, Villa Joe’s Ridgeway initiated a 16-2 run that extended into the fourth period.
With the Jems ahead 27-24 early in the final round, Burns broke a six-minute scoring drought for the Devils by hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 3:41 left to play in regulation. With two more field goals, Villa Joe’s lead peaked at 31-26, but Schumacher retrieved two points from the foul line with 1:37 remaining.
With a little over a minute to go in the fourth quarter, junior Caroline Henry scored what was only the second field goal of the half for Springside Chestnut Hill. Jammed up in the paint, Hiner kicked the ball back out along the lane to Henry at the top of the key, and she nailed a three-pointer that pushed the game into overtime at 31-all.
The Jems scored first in the four-minute OT, but Hiner quickly answered with her fourth three-pointer of the day, moving her team ahead for good, 34-33. Getting into the foul double-bonus with 1:22 on the clock, SCH had Schumacher make one of her two tosses, and Villa Joe’s Megan Morrison got one point back for the Jems from the foul line as the final minute approached.
With the ticker down at 34 seconds, Hiner hooped two free throws to put the 37-34 final score on the board. Villa Joe’s Ridgeway missed a three-point attempt, and the Devils’ Burns tied up the ball in the scramble for the rebound.
The possession arrow pointed to SCH with 12 seconds remaining, but on the inbounds play from the baseline the Devils were whistled for an illegal screen as they tried to free up a player. The Jems had the ball in their hands one last time, and the game ended just after Ridgeway’s shot from four feet beyond the three-point loop missed the mark.
Hiner led all scorers with 14 points, and Schumacher, SCH’s compact floor general, finished with eight points and four assists, while Pownall was one point behind, with seven.
The recuperating Burns made a difference for the Devils, particularly in the second half. In addition to scoring her two points from the foul line to help put the brakes on the Jems’ offensive run, she recorded six rebounds and had three assists. Hiner and senior Madi Sehn (one point) each collected five boards for the winners.
The problem with these sloppy at-least-it’s-a-win victories (and it was not SCH’s first) is that if a team keeps having long offensive and defensive lapses during games, those W’s turn into L’s. The talent within the Inter-Ac League is better distributed this season than it has been in a number of years, and for almost any team, the ability to perform with focus and intensity for most of its 32 minutes on the floor could be worth three or four places in the final standings.