NEWTOWN TWP. >> Much to her chagrin, Archbishop Carroll coach Renie Shields called a timeout in the first quarter.
The Patriots were lacking a pep in their step and Shields, a seer of basketball wisdom, knew it was the appropriate time to regroup and go to the clipboard. Episcopal Academy had hit on four of its first five attempts from the field and led by six points.
“Energy,” Shields said. “It’s energy on the defensive end and it’s something that comes from our offense. Offense is never a given, but defense is a given. Everybody can play defense. We have to make sure the girls are coming out with a lot of energy on the defensive end. That’s what we stress to them.”
The Patriots trailed by two points at the end of the first period, then scored the first six points of the second quarter and would eventually cruise to a 48-30 nonleague victory for their third consecutive win.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) December 21, 2017
Sophomore Erin Sweeney drilled three 3-point field goals and led all players with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Molly Masciantonio was fantastic. The senior combo guard netted nine of her 12 points after halftime, but it was her playmaking ability and stingy defense that had the impact on Thursday’s win. Sorrentino posted game highs in assists (six) and steals (three).
It was the kind of performance Sorrentino is focused on having every night for a Carroll team that has aspirations of playing for a Catholic League title in February.
“This year, it’s about getting my teammates open more,” Masciantonio said. “Last year it was OK, but this year I’m clearly trying to get players involved more. I also want to be more consistent with my shots and my defense.”
Masciantonio displayed tremendous court vision as she connected with newcomer Harlem Jennings cutting to the hoop. In the third quarter, Masciantonio was involved in all six of Carroll’s field goals. She hit a pair of 2s and one 3, and assisted on Sweeney’s two baskets and Jennings’ one.
You say could Masciantonio did it all.
“We certainly need her to score, which she does well, but her job as point guard is to find those kids who are open to get them easy shots and layups,” Shields said. “She has really elevated her game. She’ll see that she has a good shot, but hey, if I pass it here it’s an even better shot. She’s done that very well.”
Carroll had 14 assists on 19 baskets and shot 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. Sweeney led the way from long distance. The sophomore gained a lot of varsity experience as a freshman and is averaging better than 15 points per game early in the season.
“I’m working on getting stronger on my drives and my defense, too,” said Sweeney, who had four assists, three rebounds and a steal.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) December 21, 2017
Another player to watch at Carroll is Jennings, a versatile junior forward who transferred from Bishop Guilfoyle in Altoona. Jennings has flourished with her new team. While she scored six points Thursday, Jennings showed she can do a little of everything on the floor. She has a nice mid-range shot and can post up and play defense. She isn’t the tallest on the floor, but that doesn’t stop her from grabbing rebounds. Against Episcopal, Jennings had eight rebounds and a blocked shot.
“It’s been a great experience and the girls have been such a pleasure to play with,” Jennings said. “It’s a good start.”
Jennings is the type of player Shields loves to have in the lineup. At times last season Carroll struggled with its rebounding and aggression, but Jennings brings both attributes to this year’s squad.
“She helps a lot and does all of the dirty work,” Masciantonio said. “All the rebounding when we’re off with our shots, she’s always right there.. We didn’t lack it as much last year, but we knew this year we were going to lack that. We’re not a tall team, so she’s really doing the dirty work, her and Erin Sweeney.”
Carroll (4-1) went on a 12-0 run to begin the second half and never looked back. Episcopal (3-4) shot 7 of 11 from the field in the opening period, but was held to 5 of 21 shooting the rest of the way.
The Patriots also owned a big advantage on the glass (23-10).
Luca Mamula paced the Churchwomen with 10 points and Olivia Dirks added four points, one assist and one steal. Katie Weaver chipped in with four points, three rebounds, four assists and one steal.
Top photo: Archbishop Carroll senior guard Molly Masciantonio in action last season.
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