WHITEMARSH >> For the entire season up until Saturday afternoon, both No. 1 St. Basil and No. 2 New Hope-Solebury had been perfect.
The teams entered the District 1/11 Class 3A regional championship game having defeated every single opponent they faced to that point — St. Basil coming in 26-0 with New Hope-Solebury standing at 27-0.
Saturday, only the Panthers left the same way, as they used their strong interior defense and timely scoring to get past New Hope-Solebury 49-34 and take home the crown.
This was the third straight year the two teams met in the district finals. In 2015 St. Basil got the win as well, but last year it was NHS that escaped with a 32-31 victory.
That loss stung enough to stick in the back of the minds of the St. Basil players, and they were sure to get their revenge this time around.
“This win, to be able to win districts, it feels great” said St. Basil senior captain Natalie Kucowski. “Last year, when we lost in districts to them, it was really tough to swallow, so this was amazing for our team and for our school.”
The 6’3” Kucowski was under the microscope all game. It’s not often that she’s matched up against a player with her height and skill, but she found just that in New Hope-Solebury’s Alana Davidson.
Davidson, who comes in at 6’2” herself, led all scorers with 19 points but Kucowski made her work for it.
She blocked Davidson three times at the hoop and forced her to think about every shot she put up.
“Natalie does so much for us on the offensive end and you saw today what she can do defensively,” said St. Basil head coach Terry Mancini. “She challenged everything around the hoop and it definitely helped how the entire team played on that end.’’
That defensive effort started from the opening tip.
Davidson, who is committed to play at Davidson College next season, was held scoreless by Kucowski in the first quarter as the Panthers got out to a 7-6 lead.
After Davidson got in foul trouble and needed to be pulled in the second, St. Basil stretched its lead to 20-14 at the half and never looked back, leading for the entire game from that point on.
It was the length and athleticism of the Panthers that seemed to trouble NHS the most. When they were not able to feed the ball to their center they turned it over more often than not, which took a toll on them as the game went on.
While St. Basil came into the game wanting to stop Davidson, NHS similarly made a point of stopping Kucowski. They managed to hold her to just 9 points, well short of her season average, but it was her supporting cast that made the difference.
“I thought we did a great job on her (Kucowski) but their other players hurt us,’ said NHS head coach Andy Krasna. “We just couldn’t defend their other players and that was what made the difference in the game.’
The season continues for both teams, as they head to the state playoffs, but the Lions hope the loss will add some extra motivation as they make their push towards a state championship, which is the ultimate goal for both teams.
“Losing doesn’t make you a bad person and losing doesn’t make you a good person,” said Krasna. “It’s disappointing that we lost in this championship game but this will prepare us for states.”
St. Basil 49, New Hope-Solebury 34
St. Basil 7 13 13 16 – 50
New Hope-Solebury 6 8 9 11 – 30
St. Basil (49): Casey Remolde 3 3-3 9, Maddie Riehman 4 3-5 11, Natalie Kucowski 3 2-2 9, Cheryl Remolde 1 7-8 10, Jules Gura 1 4-4 6, Lizzie Deal 0 1-2 1, Kelly Grant 1 1-2 3. Totals: 13 21-26 49
New Hope-Solebury (34): Jordyn Sherman 1 0-0 3, Bella DeVito 0 2-2 2, Alana Davidson 7 5-8 19, Sarah Wilson 4 0-0 10. Totals: 12 7-10 34