by Tom Utescher

Junior Sydni Epps came off the injured list just in time to play in Springside’s league game on Tuesday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Splitting a pair of Girls Inter-Ac contests last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Springside School basketball team finished the regular season with a record of 5-7 in the league and 13-12 overall.

At home on Tuesday, the Lions gave a send-off to senior guards Brenna Coll and Shea Crotty. Crotty, a New Zealand native, has missed most of the season due to a torn ACL, but Coll came back from an injury in the middle of the season to score her 1000th point on Senior Day. Springside lost that game to Episcopal Academy, but the following afternoon the Lions won at Baldwin School, 54-21.

This season, a rash of injuries descended upon Springside like the plagues of Egypt. Just as junior Sydni Epps was cleared to play in last Tuesday’s tilt, sophomore Gianna Pownell went on medical leave. The Lions were missing four injured players before the game even began, then sophomore Maddi Hinchey suffered an ankle sprain in the opening quarter.

That period ended with a 14-8 advantage for the visiting Churchwomen, but Springside didn’t lose as much ground in the second stanza, and was down by eight at halftime, 26-18. It looked as if the Lions had cut the lead to six points at the end, but the officials decided that a final shot by Epps did not, in fact, beat the buzzer.

After EA spread the gap to double digits early in the third quarter (31-21), the Lions made a little run at the lead. After a field goal by Alexis Giovinazzo and a free throw by Michelle Boggs (both juniors), Coll drove for a lay-up, closing up the score to 31-26 with 3:43 to go in the period. However, the Churchwomen shut out Springside for the rest of the quarter and took a 39-26 lead into the final round.

Coll, the only senior among the three former Cardinal Dougherty High School players who transferred into Springside this year, had started the game needing five points to reach 1000 for her career. Entering the fourth quarter, she had attained 999 points on two field goals. Now she was fouled after making a steal and attempting a lay-up, and she went to the line with 6:45 remaining in the game.

When she deposited the first free throw a celebration ensued, and Springside skipper Brian Morris invited Coll’s former Cardinal Dougherty coach, Mary McDonald, onto the court to present a special 1000-point ball to the senior.

After Episcopal hit a lay-up to make it 41-27 with five minutes to go, Springside’s frustration on offense was summed up on the ensuing possession for the Lions, when they kept pulling down offensive rebounds but missed six shots in a row. At the end of this sequence Boggs (another of the former Dougherty players) hit the floor hard and had to leave the court. The junior had being working hard under the basket all day, and she soon returned to finish out the game.

Led by 6’2” sophomore Megan Quinn with a game-high 17 points, Episcopal continued to pull away, achieving a 20-point advantage before the Lions finished the game with a free throw by freshman Julia Schumacher and a three-pointer by Giovinazzo that set the final tally at 51-35. Boggs and Epps paced Springside in scoring with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

For the Churchwomen, Quinn was backed up by Kristen Hinckley, with eight points, and Asia Baker, Allie Clark, and Meghan Hubley, with six apiece.
Springside’s Coll was gratified to see the number of well-wishers that turned out to witness her 1000-point milestone.

“There were a lot of people here and it was pretty exciting,” she said. “A lot of people in my class came out, and a lot of my old friends from Dougherty. I kind of wish it was a better game, though.”

Beforehand, all the attention was a bit daunting.

“Everyone was asking me ‘Are you nervous? Are you nervous?, and that was just making me more nervous,” she explained. “It was really hard to focus when I was warming up.”

Coll also felt a touch of anxiety back in September as she began her final year of high school in an unfamiliar setting.

“I got over that pretty quickly and I really like it here,” she said. “I know all the people here now, and everybody’s been really supportive.”

Another player passed 1000 points during Springside’s outing the following afternoon. It occurred across the Schuylkill at Baldwin School, where the Bears’ Sloan Warren scored a team-high 12 points to reach 1007.

Warren, a lacrosse standout who has signed with the University of Virginia, couldn’t prevent her club from tumbling to Springside, 54-21.

The Lions used their bench liberally, but after a 10-5 opening quarter the disparity grew during each of the other three periods. The beat-up Boggs sat out the game, but Springside got double-digit scoring from Epps (17), Coll (14), and sophomore Sanna Johnson (10). Schumacher added six points and Giovinazzo had two, and completing the total were two players promoted from the JV team, Norwood Fontbonne Academy alumna Madi Sehn (three points), and sophomore Alyssa Isackman (two points).

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