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Girls Hoops Notebook: Preseason Team Talk Fueled Shanahan’s 3-0 Start

Grace Phillips felt something wasn’t right with Bishop Shanahan in the final practices leading up to the Eagles’ regular season opener against Interboro last Friday.
There are plenty of expectations heading into this season for Bishop Shanahan, the defending Ches-Mont champions and one of the top teams in District 1 Class AAAA. A senior co-captain, Phillips was one of the first to notice her team’s play in the scrimmages leading up to the opener. Something needed to be said.
“We were lethargic and slow in the scrimmages,” Phillips said after Sunday’s win vs. Lansdale Catholic. “In our last practice before the first game, we talked as a team and rallied together. Ever since then the hustle has been really consistent. That’s the reason why we’ve been getting our wins and playing our style of basketball.”
Since Phillips and Shanahan had its talk, the Eagles began the year with three wins in three days to start 3-0 for the second consecutive year. Shanahan defeated Interboro, Exeter and Lansdale Catholic by an average of 28.3 points.
Sunday’s win over Lansdale Catholic was Shanahan’s first true test as the Eagles used hustle and defense to grind out a 50-39 victory.
Any doubts Shanahan had going into the season ended with that pregame talk: a staple of the leadership role Phillips has provided over the last three years with the Eagles.
“There was concern on the coaching staff’s part if we were going to be able to figure this out in time for the weekend,” said Shanahan head coach Fran Burbidge. “With Grace and Ciara (Forde), they did a tremendous job not by their vocal leadership, but by their effort, energy and involving their teammates by being unselfish. That’s telling the younger players on this team that this is the way it’s done.
“She set the tone of how we do things. That’s great to see out of a player.”

FREE THROWS
In Shanahan’s 3-0 start, Ciara Forde averaged 16.3 points and was named the Blue Chip Classic MVP after recording 19 points with four assists and two steals in Sunday’s win over Lansdale Catholic… Katie Crum came off the bench and scored a career-high 10 points for Downingtown East in a 43-37 win over Harriton Saturday… Jess Hussey averaged 15.0 points in the Ches-Mont Challenge as Kennett is off to a 3-0 start… Freshman Miranda Porretta scored 25 points in her second career game as Oxford defeated West Chester East Saturday. Other strong freshman performances included Henderson’s Grace Ferguson (12 points in loss to Kennett) and Coatesville’s Sarah Huston (15 points in loss to Kennett)… After missing three games due to illness, Devon Adams is expected to make her season debut for Shanahan against Downingtown West tonight.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Week 1 honors go to Kennett senior Miranda Hill, who averaged 20.7 points per game this week in leading the Blue Demons to a 3-0 start. Hill scored a game-high 29 points in Saturday’s 55-48 win over Coatesville while converting five 3-pointers. She also had 20 points in Kennett’s season opener, a 61-45 win over West Chester Henderson. Hill is tied with Shanahan’s Ciara Forde for most 3-pointers in the league with seven.
Honorable mention: Ciara Forde (Shanahan), Jess Hussey (Kennett), Miranda Porretta (Oxford), Ashlyn Smith (Great Valley).

KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
Unionville at Great Valley (tonight, 7:15 p.m.); Downingtown East at Coatesville (tonight, 7:15 p.m.); Bishop Shanahan at Downingtown West (tonight, 7:15 p.m.); Garnet Valley at West Chester Rustin (Saturday, 5:15 p.m.); West Chester Henderson at Owen J. Roberts (Saturday, 7 p.m.); West Chester Rustin at Great Valley (Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.); Unionville at Oxford (Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.).

Daily Local News Top-10 Rankings (Week 1)
1. Bishop Shanahan (3-0): Eagles went undefeated in three games in three day stretch, all with Devon Adams out due to illness. Ciara Forde MVP of Blue Chip Classic victory over Lansdale Catholic.
2. Downingtown East (2-0): Defeated Oxford and Harriton to go unbeaten in Harriton Tip-Off Tournament. Aryah Aungst averaged 11 points per game in both wins.
3. Great Valley (3-0): Patriots rallied from 10-0 deficit to beat Wilson and stay undefeated. Ashlyn Smith had steal that led to winning layup with 5.4 seconds remaining.
4. Kennett (3-0): Blue Demons averaging 60.0 points per game in cruising to 3-0 start. Hill leads Ches-Mont in scoring while Hussey is tied for second.
5. Conestoga (1-0): Ellie Mack had dominant return from torn ACL with 24 points and 12 rebounds as Pioneers win Central league opener over Springfield (Delco).
6. Downingtown West (2-1): Whippets had impressive defense in Great Valley Tournament only allowing 25.5 points in two wins. Heather Camden leading team with 11.7 points per game.
7. West Chester Henderson (1-1): Maratea’s steal and layup led Warriors to win over Unionville in Ches-Mont Divisional Challenge and avoided 0-2 start. Emma Bertrando had 16 points in win.
8. Unionville (1-1): Rallied against Coatesville in season opener before blown lead against Henderson to go .500 in Ches-Mont Divisional Challenge. Sam Pancoast averaged 14 points per game in challenge.
9. Coatesville (1-2): Red Raiders bounced back from two tough losses with blowout win over Exeter. Host Downingtown East tonight.
10. Oxford (2-1): Hornets enter top-10 for first time with wins over West Chester East and Avon Grove. Freshman Miranda Porretta averaged 20.0 points in two wins and leads team with 15.3 for season.

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