TOWAMENCIN >> Sam Carangi said the North Penn girls basketball team was out to show Wednesday night that it’s not the same team that nine days earlier faded in the second half and lost to Central Bucks West in the Suburban One League final.
“I think our mind set coming into this game was energy a full 32 minutes because against West we did not do that at all,” the senior Villanova commit said. “And coach (Maggie deMarteleire) said she wanted to see how we would bounce back from the West loss. And we wanted to show her that’s not us, that’s not how we play basketball and this is North Penn basketball.”
The Knights relayed that message loud and clear in rolling up Spring-Ford in the District 1-6A second round contest. With an energetic defense that hand the visiting No. 16 Rams off from the start, top-seeded North Penn ran out to a 32-9 halftime lead and cruised to a 60-21 victory in its postseason opener.
“I thought tonight the kids did everything we asked them,” deMarteleire said. “We talked about playing 32 minutes, playing smart basketball for 32 minutes, doing the game plan for 32 minutes and playing with confidence for 32 minutes. And I thought they did the really well tonight.”
Jess Huber finished with a game-high 20 points — including a personal 12-0 run that turned a 5-2 lead in the first quarter into a 17-2 advantage early in the second period — as North Penn (21-3) clinched a PIAA Tournament berth in reaching the district quarterfinals for a sixth consecutive season.
“Especially with the (North Penn) boys winning last night and going to the state playoffs for the first time since (2000), we been there consistently so I know these seniors they want to go out and say they overachieved,” deMarteleire said. “They’re looking to finish out this year strong.”
Carangi connected on four 3-pointers in scoring 15 points with Irisa Ye adding nine points for the Knights, who host No. 9 Abington — a 44-36 winner over No. 8 Souderton — in the quarters Saturday.
“They have Lizzie (O’Leary) and the other big girl (Kassondra Brown), so we’re going to have to defend them well,” Carangi said.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) February 23, 2017
Without senior guard Sydney Wagner — out with an injured hand suffered in last Saturday’s first round win over Oxford — Spring-Ford struggled against North Penn’s perimeter defense. The Rams could not get a shot to drop, their first field goal of the game coming on a Maddie Haney 3-pointer to made it 28-6 in the second quarter.
“They were terrific. North Penn was terrific without question,” Spring-Ford coach Mickey McDaniel said. “They were coming off that tough loss to CB West and there was a hunger there and they weren’t going to be denied tonight. And defensively the just got up in us and they created some turnovers, as you saw, created some turnovers that they got baskets off of and it set the tone for the game.”
Haney had 11 points to pace the Rams, who were looking to reach the district quarter for the fifth time in six seasons. Spring-Ford visits Souderton Saturday in the consolation playbacks for ninth, 10th and 11 places.
“You’re in survive-and-advance mode right now,” McDaniel said. “And I know the kids will move on, the staff we have to move on, just have to come out to practice tomorrow and have another great practice. We had a really great practice yesterday and we’re hoping that would translate into today, but just got to work hard for two days and go after Souderton.”
After two Haney free throws cut North Penn’s lead to 5-2 at 5:23 in the opening quarter, Huber provided the game’s next 12 points. Huber’s three-point play off a transition layup put the Knights up 12-2 with 1:05 left while the senior USciences commit buried a three from the wing at the buzzer for a 15-2 advantage.
“Our defense really helped our offense get going,” Carangi said. “And we were missing shots we held them to like three points in almost the whole first half, so that really got us going I think cause when we’re not scoring if they’re not scoring either it helps us get going.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) February 23, 2017
Baskets from Huber and Bri Hewlett capped a 14-0 run before a Haney free got the Rams back on the scoreboard at 5:28 in the second. Carangi proceeded to post nine straight points — back-to-back threes, a breakaway layup off a steal and a free throw — to give the Knights their largest first-half lead at 28-3 with 2:47 remaining.
“I did feel really good. I haven’t had that in a while,” Carangi said. “But my teammates were finding me and I was open, so I was just knocking them down tonight.”
An Alyssa Conway three had the Rams within 30-9 before Ye two free throws with 4.8 seconds sent the Knights into halftime up 23.
North Penn failed to slow down in the third, starting the quarter with a Jess McKenzie jumper and a Ye basket to lead 36-9. Nine straight points extended the margin to 35 at 49-14 after a Huber free throw at 2:44. The Knights bench started the come in at the end of the third, which ended with NP up 52-17.