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Walbrandt scores 22, Souderton rolls past Methacton

FRANCONIA >> There is no hiding from expectations for the Souderton girls basketball team.

After advancing to the PIAA Class 6A semifinals last season, the Indians anticipate getting the best from every opponent they face. But if Tuesday night is any indication, when Big Red put it all together, they are more than ready for that task.

With an offense that was clicking early and a defense converting turnovers into points, Souderton rolled past visiting Methacton, jumping out to a 20-5 lead after a quarter en route to a 54-28 non-league victory.

“I think we really focused on just proving to ourselves that we were ready and up to the challenge cause we knew every team will be gunning for us,” Indians junior Megan Walbrandt said. “So we really just wanted to step it up and put the game away in the first half.”

Walbrandt knocked down a pair of three pointers in collecting 10 of Souderton’s 20 first-quarter points and was usually the one finishing fast breaks for the Indians as she finished with a career-high 22 points.

“Every time we got possession of the ball, she took off. And her teammates found her,” said Souderton coach Lynn Carroll of Walbrandt. “She hit a couple threes, she got to the foul line, she was attacking the basket in the half-court set and I think even better than that she could of scored more, where she had scoring opportunities where she could of gotten a layup and gotten fouled but instead she found a wide-open teammate and got them a shot opportunity.”

Rachel Bealer had 15 points – nine before halftime – while Alana Cardona chipped in seven points for the Indians (3-0), who led by as much as 36 in a complete effort Carroll was looking for after the Indians had to rally for wins over Lansdale Catholic and St. Basil last weekend in the Jim Church Classic.

“I think it’s a new season, I think we have to learn how to deal with the expectations that have been placed on our team for good reason,” Carroll said. “A lot of things are expected of us this year and we have to figure out how to deal with that as a team mentally and not let it hold us back. We let it affect us than we’re not showing the best of ourselves out on the court.

“But today was the first game where I felt like we played four quarters and that was a big part of our pregame talk in the locker room was the first game of the year to put together a really good four quarters which we didn’t really do this weekend.”

Sydney Tornetta scored 11 points to pace Methacton (1-2), which opened the season with a split at its Lady Warriors Classic – falling to Oxford last Friday then topping Ridley in the consolation last Saturday.

“We went out and probably played one of the best teams in the district and, according to rankings, one of the best teams in the state, on their home court. So I do give my team credit for coming and accepting the challenge and seeing what we could do,” Methacton coach Craig Kaminski said. “I wish we could have played better. I don’t think we played the best we could, but also they put us in that position.”

Souderton finishes its week with a pair of non-league road games. The Indians visit defending District 1-6A champ Abington 7 p.m. Thursday then are at Lower Merion 1 p.m. Saturday.

“The fact that we could play like that for four quarters, I think, is just good and it proves to us that we can play like that for four quarters which is, I don’t know, it’s a confidence booster for me,” Walbrandt said. “Cause personally of all the potential we have when we play, our best games are four quarters.”

Methacton starts Pioneer Athletic Conference play Thursday as it hosts defending PIAA-6A champ Boyertown then caps the week by visiting Great Valley for a non-league matchup 2:3-0 p.m. Saturday.

“Once we got to the fourth quarter, we kind of went plain and simple and said let’s just win a quarter and we won that quarter,” Kaminski said of the Warriors taking the fourth 11-6. “Now I don’t know if all their starters are all in, but something to build off of, yes.”

“We got to show our girls what a good basketball team looks like and she the speed they play at. We’re out there like walking or jogging, they’re running full speed.”

Souderton scored Tuesday night’s first six points before a Tornetta bucket, but Big Red collected the next eight – five from Walbrandt – to lead 14-2 after a Kate Connolly free throw at 2:56.

Abby Penjuke’s 3-pointer got the Warriors within nine only for Walbrandt to knock down a triple to make it 14-5 and from there the Indians’ lead never dipped below double digits.

“We always work on playing four quarters of full basketball – like good, four quarters, cause we usually do three and there’s like one or there’s a stretch where we don’t,” Walbrandt said. “But I think tonight we really brought it the whole entire game, especially in the first half we came out really strong.”

Five straight points from Bealer to begin the second quarter put Big Red up 25-5. Souderton pushed its lead in the first half to as much as 24 – 31-7 after a Cardona free throw at 3:43 – and went into halftime up 34-12 after Walbrandt made two at the line with 12.7 seconds left.

“We got off to a bad start but that all the credit to them. They are a very good basketball team,” Kaminski said. “They play so well together, they all can shoot, they all can drive, their basketball IQ is high on the charts, they know how to play the game, very good passers.

“They came after us and if we don’t make shots, you get no chance to get back on defense, they leak out, they get easy baskets.”

Souderton kept up the defensive intensity coming out of the break, turning steals into easy fast-break baskets as the Indians scored the third quarter’s first 14 points – the last six from Walbrandt.

“Overall, I thought our defense was very, very good,” Carroll said. “And I thought we played so unselfishly on the offensive end and that led to high-percentage shots as opposed to contested shots.

SOUDERTON 54, METHACTON 28
Methacton 5   7   5 11 — 28
Souderton 20 14 14   6 — 54
Methacton: Sydney Tornetta 4 1-4 11; Jill Zerbe 2 0-0 6; Abby Penjuke 2  0-0 5; Olivia Pennypacker 2 0-2 4 Caroline Pelllicano 1 0-2 2; Totals 11 1-8 28.
Souderton: Megan Walbrandt 9 2-2 22; Megan Bealer 5 4-7 15; Alana Cardona 2 3-4 7; Kate Connolly 1 1-2 3; Curran O’Donnell 1 0-0 2; Megan O’Donnell 0 2-2 2; Erica Stepehns 1 0-0 2; Tori Dowid 0 1-4 1; Totals 19 13-21 54.
Three-pointers: M-Tornetta 2; Zerbe 2; Penjuke. S-Walbrandt 2; Bealer.

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