Caln – Prior to Wednesday evening’s PIAA District One 6A girls’ basketball tournament playback between No. 14 seed Coatesville and 15th seed Central Bucks East, Patriots head coach Liz Potash was impressed by two aspects of the Red Raiders’ play.
“I saw a couple of Coatesville’s games this season, and I saw that they like to go up and down the floor, and that they were a big, physical team that was good at getting offensive rebounds,” said Potash. “So I knew we had to stop the penetration of No. 3 (senior guard Dee Dee Irwin) and we had to box out. And we did both of those things tonight.”
Central Bucks East (16-9) rolled to an 11-point halftime lead, and defeated host Coatesville, 65-46, clinching a berth in the upcoming PIAA 6A state tournament. CB East will travel to No. 12 seed Upper Dublin Friday for the ninth-place contest, but regardless of whether the Patriots win or lose the Friday contest, CB East is in the state tournament.
“[Qualifying for States] is a nice weight to be lifted off our shoulders going into Friday’s contest,” said Potash with a smile.
Coatesville has one more shot to wrap up the 11th (and final) seed in the 6A state tournament, when the Red Raiders face No. 8 seed Souderton Friday at 7 p.m. at Quakertown High School.
Leading the charge for Central Bucks East Wednesday evening were their two leading scorers this season, senior forwards Briana Talbot (23 points) and Bridget Birkhead (10 rebounds, five assists).
“Briana has a really quick first step, she’s a good finisher,” said Potash. “And [us coaches] talk about having a complete game, and Bridget had that tonight – she didn’t score a lot of points, but she contributed in different ways.”
In the first half, Talbot scored 13 points as CB East led at halftime 29-18. She added seven more points in the third period, going 5-for-5 from the free throw line, as the Lady Patriots built a 46-30 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Coatesville spent most of the evening trying to catch up, but numerous missed shots and turnovers by the Red Raiders were not allowing them to build any momentum. Central Bucks East outscored Coatesville in each of the four quarters.
Red Raider head coach Tem Mack said, “I told our players after the game that if we play like this on Friday, we will get beat. We need to improve everything [from tonight].”
In the first few minutes of the game, Coatesville battled CB East evenly and held a 6-4 lead midway through the first period. It was the Red Raiders’ last lead of the night. CB East junior guard Bailey McManus hit a trey from the left corner to put the Patriots ahead for good (she had a trio of treys, and finished with 14 points), then junior Gina Russo worked her way inside for a couple of baskets as the visitors took a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, Talbot drove inside for three consecutive baskets, two off steals, to give the visitors a 21-8 early lead. By halftime, the Red Raiders were trailing 29-18.
Midway through the third period, Irwin and Brianna White hit treys to cut CB East’s lead to 33-24. But the Patriots then went on a 13-3 run, highlighted by a couple of scoring drives by Talbot (one off a steal) and treys from McManus and Birkhead.
Coatesville created one more brief flicker of hope with 6 1/2 minutes to play, when White and Zhariah Torres hit treys to cut Central Bucks East’s lead to 49-39. But, following a timeout by the Patriots, the visitors then ran off a 12-0 run to basically put the game away, as McManus broke open for several key shots from outside.
Irwin led the Red Raiders with 14 points and White tallied 13 for the hosts.
Central Bucks East 65, Coatesville 46
CENTRAL BUCKS EAST: Mancuso 3 0-1 8, Birkhead 3 0-2 7, Russo 3 0-1 6, Browne 1 0-1 2, McManus 4 3-4 14, Wetzel 1 0-0 2, Talbot 7 9-11 23, Charlton 1 1-2 3, Totals 23 13-22 65.
COATESVILLE: White 5 1-2 13, Brown 1 2-2 4, Douglas 2 1-4 5, Irwin 3 6-8 14, Stanton 1 0-0 3, Boggs 0 2-2 2, Torres 2 0-0 5, Totals 14 12-18 46.
Central Bucks East 13 16 17 19 – 65
Coatesville 8 10 12 16 – 46
3-point field goals: CBE – Mancuso 2, Birkhead, McManus 3; CO – White 2, Irwin 2, Stanton, Torres.