Norwood guard Kara Celano (left) battles for ball possession with a Nazareth Academy opponent. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Heading down the home stretch in regular-season play, the girls’ basketball squad at Norwood Fontbonne Academy improved its overall record to 10-4 last Tuesday, turning away visiting Nazareth Academy, 42-17.

The Bears are also close to assuring themselves of a spot in the league playoffs, since the win over Nazareth gave the local lasses a mark of 7-2 within the Girls Catholic Academies League. The team’s head coach is Liz Wood, who played both for Norwood (Class of ’99) and for Mount St. Joseph Academy.

Two weeks ago, Norwood was able to overcome a longtime nemesis, topping Gwynedd Mercy Elementary School, 35-23. In their two league setbacks this winter, the Bears lost to Waldron Mercy by four points and to the Academy of Notre Dame by two.

Against the Nazareth Lady Hawks (the Nazareth grade school team goes by a different nickname than the all-girls Nazareth Academy High School, whose mascot is a Panda), it took a little while for the Norwood offense to get into high gear.

Missing a pair of free throws at the outset, NFA was still first on the scoreboard thanks to a mid-range jump shot from the left wing by Georgia Powell. The visitors matched that bucket, then Bears center Chloe Burns scored off an offensive rebound and added a second field goal in the offensive transition off of a pass from guard Kara Celano.

The Hawks responded with a three-pointer and a shorter jumper, pulling one point ahead of their hosts (7-6) in the middle of the first quarter. Wisely, Norwood had Celano and the other guards keep sending the ball inside to Burns, who hit two field goals and shot four-for-four from the foul line to make it 14-7 at the end of the opening period.

Celano started the second stanza with a lay-up, and she also converted a free throw awarded on the play. When she stuck a three-point shot from the right flank, the Bears were really off and running, attaining a 20-7 lead and forcing their guests to call a time out with 4:32 remaining in the first half.

Unable to find the basket, the Hawks kept falling farther behind until they found themselves down 32-7 at halftime. Burns had already scored all of her 18 points for the day, and Celano was also in double figures, with 10 points.

Beginning the second half with what was clearly an unassailable lead, Norwood eased up and was able to give its reserves plenty of playing time. Celano scored the first basket of the third quarter and then played more of a passing game after that, content to finish with a dozen points on the nose.

Powell offered up a point from the foul line, and after Nazareth finally added to its side of the board with a three-pointer, the third period ended with a last-second jumper by NFA’s Marta Geilfuss, making it 37-10.

In the final round, Powell put in another free throw to finish with four points, and Grace Comerford and Grace Gelone each tacked on a basket.

Katie Schramm had a good second half on offense for Nazareth, scoring all of her team-high 10 points after the intermission.

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