by Tom Utescher

The basketball teams at Norwood Fontbonne Academy have enjoyed mixed results since hosting their annual Snowball Tournament at the beginning of the month, when the boys’ team won the championship and the girls reached the semifinal round.

Chloe Burns, the seventh-grade center for the girls squad, injured an ankle in the tournament opener and has still not been able to return to the line-up. Two other players have been sidelined by knee problems, including eighth-grader Eliza Ewing, a three-sport athlete.

The banged-up Bears were still able to defeat visiting Nazareth Academy last Tuesday, racing out to a 22-5 halftime lead and continuing on to a 36-18 victory. Grace Gelone, a seventh-grader, had the game-high in both points (14) and rebounds (seven).

Sharing the honors for rebounding was Maddie Lauringer, who had seven boards of her own while scoring four points, and six points were marked down for Gabby Dunning. There were four points apiece for Georgia Powell (four rebounds) and Audrey Hinchey (two assists).

The NFA girls found more rigorous opposition the following afternoon, when Gwynedd Mercy Elementary School came calling. Unfortunately for Norwood and its fans, Wednesday’s game marked the return to action for Gwynedd standout Libby Tacka. She’s the sister of 2011 Mount St. Joe graduate Natalie Tacka, who is now playing field hockey at Lehigh University. The younger Tacka injured an ankle in one of the basketball team’s first practices this season, but made a statement last week at Norwood as she poured in a game-high 13 points.

Another younger sister of an accomplished Mount athlete is Ashley Smith, Gwynedd’s seventh-grade point guard. Her older sister, Steph, was a two-time league MVP while playing for the Magic, and is now a freshman on the team at Loyola University in Baltimore. The younger Smith focused on her ball handling chores in Wednesday’s game, coming away with two points.

The Mustangs’ Megan Dougherty got the scoreboard moving with a baseline jumper. Then, Tacka tossed in a three-pointer and a pair of free throws. On an inbounds play, Julianna Hunt hit a lay-up to put Gwynedd up 9-0 before Gelone broke the ice for Norwood, scoring off of an offensive rebound.

Gelone got to the foul line a few times and the Bears only trailed 10-5 at the end of the opening period, but they slipped farther behind as the Mustangs also won the second period by a 10-5 tally. Gwynedd started the second half with a 20-10 lead and limited the home team to just two points the rest of the way.

The lone scorer after the break was Gelone, who deposited a lay-up in the third quarter and finished the game with seven points and seven rebounds.

Guard Kara Celano added four points for the Bears and Lauringer had one point and six rebounds.

Complementing Tacka’s performance, Dougherty and Hunt finished with four points apiece for the winners.

Gwynedd Mercy was also responsible for the last loss suffered by the NFA boys’ team, but that January 18 encounter was a much closer game. After falling behind 27-10, the visiting Bears rallied to narrow the gap to just two points, but the Mustangs stopped their slide and took away a five-point victory, 51-46. Sean Sehn led the visitors with 15 points and five rebounds.

The following day, the Norwood boys were on the road again, travelling to Devon Prep and bringing a 53-39 win back across the Schuylkill. Liam Nester rang up 21 points and 10 rebounds and Tanner Visco added 12 points and three boards. Point guard Dom DiCinque did a good job running the offense while contributing four points.

Andrew Maloney, who had been injured during Norwood’s football season and had just returned to action for the Gwynedd game a day earlier, scored six points and pulled three rebounds against Devon.

Back on the Bears’ home court last Tuesday, Nester scored an even dozen as the locals downed Nazareth Academy, 51-42. Sehn scored seven points and collected six rebounds, and Cole Storm scored nine points and notched three steals.

The victory raised Norwood’s record to 4-4 in the Catholic Academies League, where the current leader is Wyncote’s Ancillae Assumpta Academy.

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