by Tom Utescher
Last weekend at Upper Dublin High School’s Cardinal Classic basketball tournament, the girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy found themselves in a situation that brought to mind the St. Crispin’s Day speech in the play Henry V – “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!”
The Blue Devils had a very short bench for their games on Friday and Saturday; in fact they began on Saturday with just five players before a sixth arrived after the first quarter.
Unfortunately for SCH, Shakespeare was not writing the end to this story, and the Blue Devils were not able to overcome the daunting odds against them.
On Friday it was simply a matter of taking on defending PIAA state champion Upper Dublin High School, which topped Springside Chestnut Hill in a semifinal contest, 76-20. SCH moved into Saturday’s consolation game against North Penn High School, which lost the other semifinal by 44 points to Germantown Academy.
The Maidens are a young team with a first-year head coach, but North Penn still has an enrollment six times that of SCH in grades nine through 12. With a 65-33 victory on Saturday, North Penn would head into the new year with a record of 4-3, while the Blue Devils dipped to 3-7.
After falling behind Upper Dublin 9-0 at the outset in Friday’s contest, SCH staged a minor comeback over the next few minutes. The Devils sandwiched three-point field goals by seniors Kara Kniezewski and Mo’ne Davis around a lay-up by the Cardinals’ center, junior Jackie Vargas.
Vargas scored again for Upper Dublin, but Davis popped in a short jumper from the lane and SCH was only down 13-8 midway through the first period.
After that, though, Upper Dublin took control for good with a 21-0 run that extended into the early minutes of the second quarter. Later on, even with Davis tossing in a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the right wing Springside Chestnut Hill trailed 45-16 at halftime.
As things turned out, that trey would be the visitors’ last field goal of the game, with their four second-half points coming on three foul shots by Davis and one by Kniezewski.
The SCH team high of 13 points belonged to Davis, who will be signing with Hampton University of Newport News, Va. to play softball. Switching from hardball to softball two years ago, Davis played shortstop for SCH teams that won the Inter-Ac League title in 2017 and 2018, and the 2018 Pa. Independent Schools championship.
Upper Dublin’s winning effort in last Friday’s semifinal was led by Vargas, with 16 points, sophomore Dayna Balasa, with 11, and junior Anajae Smith, with nine.
The next afternoon North Penn had 11 points in the books before a Kniezewski “three” got the Blue Devils on the scoreboard. There was some concern when SCH eighth-grader Ava Chavez hit the deck hard a little over four minutes into the game, since at this time her team had a total of five players available for duty. Although she was able to resume playing, the Blue Devils found themselves trailing 23-10 at the quarter and then saw the Maidens score the first seven points of the second frame.
For SCH, Davis hit a late three-pointer and then followed in her own lay-up just as the halftime buzzer settled the score at 36-18. The Blue Devils did not stop scoring from the field as in Friday’s contest, but they were 32 points behind at the final reckoning.
SCH received 14 points from Kniezewski, 10 from Davis and nine from Chavez, while Val McGriff rang up a game-high 16 points for North Penn.