by Tom Utescher
It was one of those lackluster basketball games which ends with the victor saying “at least it’s a “W” ‘ and then aiming to play better the next time out.
Late in the second quarter, the host Blue Devils of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy appeared to gain some separation from visiting Agnes Irwin, but after enjoying a 15-8 advantage at the half, SCH let the Owls right back into the game early in the third quarter.
Falling behind, 19-23, in the middle of the period, the Blue Devils then went ahead for good with a 7-0 burst to close out the quarter. Despite numerous missed lay-ups and free throws throughout the afternoon, the hosts hung on for a 30-27 victory in a contest that was the Inter-Ac League opener for both ballclubs.
Leveling their overall record at 2-2, the Blue Devils received 10 points and five assists from senior guard Julia Schumacher, eight points and 11 rebounds from freshman forward Chloe Burns, and seven points from sophomore guard Marissa Pownall. Despite a game-high 14 points from junior Sierra Corbett (along with four rebounds and three steals), the Irwin Owls slipped to 2-1.
With several baskets from the paint by Burns, Springside Chestnut Hill held a 7-6 edge a few minutes into the second quarter, even though the Devils deposited only one of six free throw attempts up to that point. Pownall popped in a “three” from the left corner, then Schumacher sank two free throws and junior forward Olivia Byron chipped in with one point from the foul line. With under two minutes left in the first half, the gap widened to nine points (15-6) thanks to a rebound converted to a lay-up by senior forward Madi Sehn. Sehn, like Burns, is a graduate of Norwood Fontbonne Academy.
The Owls’ Corbett scored the last field goal of the half, but SCH was still up by seven at the interlude. Instead of adding to their lead, the Blue Devils saw much of it vanish in a little over a minute at the start of the third quarter. Jolie Jemmott hit a jumper for the visitors, then Stephanie Williams scored on a breakaway with a made free throw tacked onto the play.
Irwin’s Corbett took over for the next few minutes, slashing to the hoop to outscore the Devils 10-4 all by herself. Since the last minute of the first half, the visitors had now out-pointed the SCH squad, 17-4. Schumacher stabilized the situation by driving in for a lay-up, then the hosts went back up by a point as Pownall put in her second trey of the game, this one from the right wing.
Near the end of the period Schumacher fed Burns for a lay-up, making it 26-23 at the three-quarter mark. Later, with seven minutes gone in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils were still up by three, now at 30-27.
They were in the foul bonus, but three different times in the final minute they missed the first shot of a one-and-one. Fortunately for SCH, two three-point attempts by guard Irwin’s Lauren Spinelli and one by Williams all missed the mark, and the Devils’ lead remained intact.
Byron finished up with eight rebounds and four assists for SCH, and sophomore Lindsay Hiner added two points and three rebounds for the winners. Spinelli and Williams scored five and four points, respectively, for Agnes Irwin, which also received three from Jemmott and one from Autumn Wedderburn.