HERSHEY >> The screams and cheers from inside the Souderton girls locker room trickled out into the hallway and even drowned out the music blasting over the loudspeakers at Milton Hershey’s Spartan Center on Friday night.
That all but told the tale of the game.
A highly-energized Souderton team ran all over Central Dauphin en route to a 50-29 upset win during the opening round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs.
The Indians put the clamps down on their first-ever state win thanks in no small part to Kate Connolly. The junior forward finished with a career-high 30 points, including a pair of 3-pointers and a 10-for-12 showing from the field. She also finished with 15 boards, four steals, two blocks and a pair of assists.
“This was a whole new experience for me and everyone on this team,” said Connolly afterward, “so we were nervous, but we channeled those nerves.
“We all want to win with each other and for each other.”
That mentality has paid dividends all season long.
Souderton, the lowly No. 11 seed from District One, seemed in complete control up against the powers of Central Dauphin, the top seed from District 3. The Indians jumped out to a four-point lead by the end of the first as Connolly scored eight of her team’s 10 points. Souderton then extended it to a 26-17 advantage by the time the halftime buzzer sounded.
Souderton kept the energy up throughout the second half, out-scoring Central Dauphin 24-12 during the final 16 minutes.
Behind Connolly, sophomore Megan Bealer finished with eight points and seven rebounds while Alanda Cardona and Megan Walbrandt each finished with five.
On the defensive end, junior guard Tori Dowd locked down CD’s Samantha Gress throughout, limiting the sharp-shooter to just one 3-pointer en route to five points.
“They run a lot of screens for her to get open looks,” said Souderton head coach Lynn Carroll of the Rams. “Tori battled through all of it. She did such a good job getting through those screens and finding a way to stay on her. She didn’t give up an inch.”
After losing to eventual-champion Abington during the second round of districts, Souderton never went away.
The Big Red opened playbacks with a win over Spring-Ford, then suffered a loss against Upper Dublin. In a do-or-die, season-on-the-line matchup for the final place in the district, Souderton edged out Coatesville to earn a trip to states.
“It says a lot about this team,” said Carroll, “it surely wasn’t an easy road getting here. They have definitely made the most of it.”
Jamie Brann led Central Dauphin with 10 points while Alexis Smith had six.
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