CONCORD >> Before she joins her older brother Brit at Messiah College, Lindsay Haseltine hopes to end her basketball career with a big prize.
Maybe it will be a Bicentennial Athletic League championship. The Crusaders entered Wednesday as one of four undefeated girls teams in Delaware County.
Or how about a District 1 Class A title? The Crusaders got close last winter, falling by two points to league rival Jenkintown in the final.
For now, Haseltine and the Crusaders are simply trying to improve by the day. Participating in the 38th annual Garnet Valley Varsity Club Holiday Invitational certainly will help matters.
“We haven’t played against tough competition yet, or as much tough competition,” Haseltine said following a 38-17 defeat to Garnet Valley on Wednesday. “Coach (Jason Wilt) was saying that we have to be ready for the upcoming out-of-league season because there’s going to be some tough competition. He likes how we’re playing right now and he said … that each game like this will help us pull together more and play as a team better. Each hard game like this one will push us harder for the end of the season. We have teams like Jenkintown on our schedule and we know they are a lot better this year, too.”
Haseltine is a two-time All-Delco soccer standout and will play the sport in college. Brit Haseltine was a member of the men’s soccer team that captured the NCAA Division III Championship this fall.
The Crusaders (7-1) tasted defeat for the first time this season with Wednesday’s loss to the host Jaguars (6-0). For one half, they kept pace against the reigning Central League champions. The Jags started slow and went ice-cold from the floor (0-for-10) in the second quarter. Leading by only two points at intermission, the Jags were outscored in the second period, 7-0. Grace Gormley, who is a four-year starter on TCA alongside Haseltine, netted all seven of her team’s points.
TCA (6-1) frustrated the Jags by taking the air out of the ball and waiting patiently for its scoring opportunities.
“They are really, really good,” Haseltine said of Garnet Valley. “We’re usually more up-tempo and we like to go on fast breaks. But here, against a good team like them, we wanted to slow it down and guard certain areas of the court. On offense we wanted to maintain possession because as long as they don’t have the ball, they can’t score. We tried to maintain possession for as long as we could and get the best shot possible.”
Hannah Sareyka made an outlet pass to Dejah Burley-Chambers streaking to the basket a minute into the third quarter to tie the game. That’s when Garnet Valley hit the gas and never let up. Morgan Falcone hit a long deuce and the Jags were off and running, outscoring the Crusaders the rest of the way, 26-5.
Emily McAteer led the way with 14 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
“The coaches told us we were shooting too much from the outside (in the second quarter) and that we needed to work more on the inside,” McAteer said. “They were holding the ball for a while and we had to stay awake and keep our focus while they did that.”
Brianne Borcky added 10 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Maddy Sorokanych chipped in with four points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
When the Jags utilized their full-court press and man defense, the Crusaders had no answer. Garnet’s defense forced 21 turnovers.
“I think we came out slow and everyone realized that we needed to step up in the second half,” said the junior Borcky, who recently committed to Drexel University. “They really slowed it down when they had the ball. I hate standing around on defense, so I felt like I had to play fast-pace and get a play going. It was a little tiring just standing there waiting for them to do something and watching them pass the ball around. That’s when I knew I had to try and make a play.”
Senior point guard Nicole Barnes (three boards, three steals, two assists) had a fine floor game and Falcone finished with three points, two assists and one steal.
Garnet Valley has won the last four Varsity Club tournament titles. The Jaguars play Great Valley, which defeated Archmere (Del.), in Friday’s championship game at 6 p.m.
“I give a lot of credit to The Christian Academy. They were very disciplined and had a good game plan against us,” Garnet Valley coach Joe Woods said. “They were patient and did a nice job working the ball. We were missing shots in the first half, we were pretty lethargic, but we were able to turn it around and start making baskets in the second half.”
Garnet Valley shot better than 50 percent (11 of 21) after halftime.
Gormley paced the Crusaders with seven points, six rebounds and four steals. Burley-Chambers had five points and a team-high nine rebounds, while Haseltine contributed three points, four rebounds, two steals and one assist.
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