FRANCONIA >> The more Alana Cardona thinks about what she’s doing on a basketball court, the worse it usually ends up for the Souderton senior.
So when the forward saw a chance to take a 3-pointer in the third quarter of the Indians’ season opener Friday night, she didn’t think twice. Cardona’s trey sparked a game-changing run as Souderton rallied out of a halftime deficit to top Lansdale Catholic 41-30 in the opening round of the Jim Church Classic.
Cardona scored 16 to lead Souderton (1-0), which trailed by five at the break to a very game Crusaders team.
“I had a lot of momentum and I could feel our team momentum building and I thought I might as well just take it,” Cardona said. “From there, everybody got really pumped up, if they weren’t before and it really started our comeback.”
LC (0-1) came out ready to play and the Crusaders’ guards did an excellent job against Souderton’s ball pressure. The Indians have excellent defensive guards like Tori Dowd and Megan Bealer, so they normally like to get in the face of opposing ballhandlers.
Friday, that plan didn’t really work as LC’s guards were more than happy to take the pressure then move the ball to an open player. LC senior Brady Wassel scored the game’s first points on a baseline runner, then played facilitator the rest of the half, assisting three Carolyn Ferko baskets.
Souderton kept junior Megan Walbrandt on the bench the entire first half, with the guard/wing dealing with an ankle injury. With another good defender not on the floor, Souderton wasn’t able to slow down the Crusaders.
“We made an adjustment defensively at halftime that I should have made much, much earlier in the game,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “We didn’t do a very good job of containing their guards and their guards were making great decisions with the ball. They were attacking and dropping it off and our help defense was not good enough and our help the helper defense was non-existent.”
Lauren Crim scored seven points in the first half to lead LC, including a late 3-pointer that gave the Crusaders a 21-16 edge at the half. Souderton took a lead at 3-2, but the Indians never led again in the first half, although they did tie it twice only to have LC respond each time.
Crim and Wassel are LC’s only two seniors, but their teammates were more than able to hang with Souderton. Crusaders coach Joe Mack Jr. didn’t have any problems with his team’s effort or even the shots it missed, but he did feel his squad wasn’t able to execute offensively in the second half.
“I thought in the fourth quarter we got a little tight,” Mack said. “They stepped up their defense, but I don’t think we executed down the stretch and that was the difference in the game, we also had a couple costly turnovers. The shots we took, a lot of them, I’d love to take them again and we’ll continue to take them in the foreseeable future and I’m confident we’ll make them.”
When Souderton backed off in the second half, it took away all those drive and drops the Crusaders had used so well in the first half. The Indians held LC to just nine points in the second half, keeping Wassel to just one point and no assists and limiting Crim to four points.
Walbrandt entered the game with 5:26 left in the third and spent a lot of the period guarding Crim. Curran O’Donnell had filled in admirably for Walbrandt in the first half, scoring seven points off the bech but the offense was still looking for that spark.
The Indians got it when Cardona pulled up off the dribble on the right wing with 3:40 left in the third quarter. Her triple set off a 13-0 run that spanned into the fourth quarter and put Souderton ahead for good.
“I try to not think about what I’m doing a lot because I’ve realized when I think about it, it doesn’t end very well for me because I will miss a lot more,” Cardona said. “I try not to think about it and let the game flow.”
The senior, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania recruit, scored seven of Souderton’s 12 in the third quarter and also assisted another basket. She credited the play of the bench, Curran and Megan O’Donnell and Walbrandt, as giving her the spark to find her offense.
“Alana played really well and every year, she’s developed her game in the offseason,” Carroll said. “She is as committed as anyone we’ve had when it comes to improving. She’s added some elements to her offensive game this year and she’s still playing as hard and as tough as she ever has on the defensive end.”
Crim led LC with 11 points, Wassel scored five with seven rebounds and freshman Timaya Lewis had four points and seven boards.
LC had two costly turnovers late in the fourth quarter with the game still up for grabs, but the benefit of the early season is it crams a lot of games into a short span of time. The Crusaders will face St. Hubert on Saturday in a consolation game.
“We said as much as it stings to lose and have that feeling, we’re back here in less than 12 hours and we can erase that feeling,” Mack said. “We’re looking forward to playing tomorrow.”
Souderton will face St. Basil Academy, who topped Hubert 67-27, in the championship game at 3 p.m. Souderton won the tournament title last year. The Panthers shined defensively with 24 steals and their long, active arms pose a challenge to the Indians.
“They do a lot of things defensively, they’re long and athletic and are a much different team than what we saw tonight,” Carroll said of St. Basil. “We’re looking forward to trying to get this championship again this year.”
SOUDERTON 41, LANSDALE CATHOLIC 30
SOUDERTON 8 8 12 13 – 41
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 10 11 5 4 – 30
Souderton: Alana Cardona 4 7-8 16, Kate Connolly 3 2-2 9, Curran O’Donnell 3 0-0 7, Megan Walbrandt 1 1-2 3, Megan Bealer 2 0-0 4, Tori Dowd 0 2-2 2. Nonscoring: Sami Falencki, Megan O’Donnell. Totals: 13 12-14 41.
Lansdale Catholic: Lauren Crim 5 0-1 11, Carolyn Ferko 3 0-0 6, Brady Wassel 1 3-4 5, Timaya Lewis 1 2-4 4, Caitlin Rosenberger 1 0-0 2, Kristina Finkelston 1 0-1 2. Nonscoring: Olivia Schneider, Maile Erwin, Julia Eckroth. Totals: 12 5-10 30.
3-pointers: S – Cardona, Connolly, C O’Donnell; LC – Crim.
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