by Tom Utescher
The girls’ basketball teams from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Episcopal Academy tied for third place in the Inter-Ac League last season, and they came into their first meeting of the 2018-19 campaign with similar overall records, SCH at 3-7 and EA at 3-8.
Their current Inter-Ac records differed mainly because the Blue Devils (0-1) had opened up against a deep Penn Charter ball club, while the EA Churchwomen (1-0) had made their league debut against a struggling Agnes Irwin franchise.
Last Friday, in their first meeting this winter, host Episcopal earned an 18-8 halftime advantage but Springside Chestnut Hill cut that lead to four points early in the third period. The Churchwomen recovered and were up 33-21 at the three-quarter mark while en route to a 45-27 victory.
In its games just before and just after Christmas, SCH had been missing a number of key players due to illness, injury and vacations. In their regular annual appearance at the Upper Dublin High School tournament, the Blue Devils had to begin a contest on Dec. 28 with just five players on hand.
Last week at EA all but three members of the roster were ready for action, but this group of athletes hadn’t really played together as a unit since early December.
As each team’s second Inter-Ac game got underway, an early field goal and two free throws for the hosts were matched by a drive by SCH senior Mo’ne Davis and a lay-up by freshman post player Layla Sawyer off of a pass from junior Katie Reagan. Later in the period, Episcopal scored three times from the paint to take a 10-4 advantage into the second round.
Now entering the game for SCH was Caroline Clark, a senior who is headed for Babson College and who was just returning to action off of the injured list. Fouled twice, she went four-for-four at the free throw line, but the Blue Devils did not score any field goals during the second eight minutes and found themselves trailing 18-8 at the intermission.
EA’s points were spread around between eight different players in the first half. At the break, Clark led the visitors with four points and junior forward Raeleen Keffer-Scharpf had four for the Churchwomen.
SCH had not scored from the field since the middle of the opening quarter, but a little over a minute into the third period Clark canned a three-pointer from the left wing. Eighth-grader Ava Chavez made one of two free throws and then scored a lay-up with an assist from senior Kara Kniezewski.
Episcopal called time-out with 5:28 left in the third quarter, now only ahead 18-14. Returning to action, EA got a “three” from junior Cara Harty, while Davis responded for the visitors with a shorter jumper from the left baseline.
The Blue Devils were still just five points down, then in the middle of the period they sent EA senior Olivia Dirks to the foul line two times in a row. Dirks, who has signed with Penn State to play lacrosse, made all four free throws, touching off a decisive 10-0 run for Episcopal. Despite two made free throws for Davis and a second trey by Clark, Springside Chestnut Hill trailed 33-21 going into the fourth frame.
The Churchwomen would keep their margin in double digits the rest of the way, scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils actually got into the foul bonus with just over five minutes to play, but never enjoyed any one-on-one opportunities in the final stages of the game.
Clark and Davis led the visiting side with 10 and nine points respectively, while Episcopal received 13 points from Keffer-Scharpf, nine from Dirks and seven from Harty.
After playing home games against Mastery Charter and Agnes Irwin this Tuesday and Friday, the Blue Devils will take on Souderton High School at 10 a.m. on Sunday as part of the Play-by-Play Maggie Lucas Classic at Jefferson University. In other games in the event at Jefferson, Germantown Academy will play Archbishop Wood at 4 p.m., immediately followed by a clash between Mount St. Joseph and Cardinal O’Hara High School.