FRANCONIA >> The similarities were pretty striking.
For the second game in a row, Souderton’s girls basketball team found itself down five at halftime on its home floor. For the second game in a row, a 3-pointer in the third quarter sparked a go-ahead run and handed the Indians a lead they wouldn’t give back.
For the second game in a row, Souderton rallied a won, this time topping a very game St. Basil Academy team 38-33 to win its second straight Jim Church Classic title on Saturday.
“Those kind of shots can be really helpful,” senior forward Kate Connolly said. “In the first half, nothing was really dropping, but if you can start off with a good shot that goes in, it really energizes your team.”
With her team down 16-11 at the half, Connolly got Souderton (2-0) going when she buried a 3-pointer off the left wing to start the third quarter. The Indians converted the momentum off the Drexel recruit’s shot into a 12-0 run that flipped the script on the Panthers.
St. Basil (1-1) didn’t help itself much either, with two turnovers, a bad shot and a poorly-timed foul during the run allowing Souderton to keep pushing its advantage up. After Connolly passed out of a double-team on the low block, finding Megan Bealer for three, the Indians led 23-16 with 3:06 left in the third.
The Panthers used the opportunity to show their make-up and started to claw back into the game.
“We always stress the first three minutes of the second half are so big and that was one of our plusses last year as a team,” St. Basil coach Terry Mancini said. “It’s a new group, so it’s a learning experience. It’s a great opportunity to play a very good team this early in the season to see where we’re at right now.”
Connolly led Souderton with 13 points, but the bulk of the 12-0 run came from senior forward Alana Cardona, who had half of the points and finished with 10 to earn tournament MVP honors. In the first half though, no one from Souderton had much going offensively. The Indians shot just 1-of-10 from the floor in the second quarter, which St. Basil won 9-2 to build its halftime lead.
Junior Megan Walbrandt, who started after sitting the first half on Friday with an ankle injury, provided enough flotation for Souderton, scoring seven of her nine before the intermission. Otherwise, it was tough going against St. Basil’s aggressive defense.
The Panthers trailed 9-4 late in the first quarter, but used a 3-pointer by Shannon Remolde and a couple of steals to jump-start them going into the second. Forward Casey Remolde, after picking up her second foul early in the first quarter, returned in the second to carry the Panthers’ offense.
“I feel like we’re a strong defensive team so knowing we’re able to step up and cover some really good defensive guards make me really comfortable and it will be really helpful for our league (the AACA),” Remolde said. “I stopped playing soccer to prepare for the season. I knew there was going to be a lot of pressure but I wanted to come out and be ready to step up and fill Natalie (Kucowski’s) spot and I hope I can fill those big shoes as we move into the season.”
Remolde scored a game-high 14 points and also spent most of the contest guarding Connolly or Cardona. Mancini said the junior is probably his team’s best defender as well and credited Remolde for putting in extra work after giving up soccer and getting into great shape to start the season.
Playing Souderton was supposed to show the Panthers where they stand and they left the gym Saturday happy with their effort, but also knowing there’s still more to work on.
“I always feel comfortable with whoever’s on the floor, a lot of us grew up playing together, so I think we’ll have strong chemistry as a team,” Remolde said. “I hope we can learn from today. I think all those mistakes, we can fix them easily and we can be a really strong team if we continue to practice hard and fix those mistakes.”
Souderton only led by four at the start of the final quarter, but Connolly again provided her team a good quarter-starter when she found Bealer for another triple. Remolde scored four straight to cut into the lead again but the teams then continued to trade buckets, allowing the Indians to stay in front by two scores.
“They were really good defensively so we wanted to make sure we kept them moving,” Connolly said. “We wanted to move the defense as much as possible so we could get open shots or to the basket.”
Connolly was clutch at the line in the fourth quarter, hitting 6-of-8 from the line to maintain the Souderton lead.
The senior forward said the two games this weekend showed the Indians that they have to keep focused for all 32 minutes, but also they have a deep team. Even though the bench didn’t provide any points on Saturday, it did give Souderton good energy and defense, things that add up in a close game.
“We have to get it in our minds to really get it started in the first half,” Connolly said. “We needed to take a breather and everyone to realize we were getting good shots, they just had to focus and make sure they were going in.”
SOUDERTON 38, ST. BASIL ACADEMY 33
ST. BASIL ACADEMY 7 9 5 12 – 33
SOUDERTON 9 2 14 13 – 38
St Basil: Casey Remolde 4 5-6 14, Danae Carter 3 0-2 6, Shannon Remolde 2 0-0 5, Lauren Ems 1 0-0 3, Cheryl Remolde 1 0-0 3, Jules Gura 0 0-2 0. Nonscoring: Kelly Grant. Totals: 11 7-12 33.
Souderton: Kate Connolly 2 8-10 13, Alana Cardona 1 8-8 10, Megan Walbrandt 2 4-6 9, Megan Bealer 2 0-0 6. Nonscoring: Tori Dowd, Sami Falencki, Curran O’Donnell, Megan O’Donnell. Totals: 9 20-26 38.
3-pointers: S – Bealer 2, Connolly, Walbrandt; SBA – Shannon Remolde, Casey Remolde, Cheryl Remolde, Ems.
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