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Depth makes Council Rock North girls basketball a dangerous foe in 2018

Council Rock North senior Mackenzie Tinner, center, fights for a rebound in recent Lady Indians' duel with sister school CR South. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – If there’s one thing that’s a given about Council Rock North this year, it’s that this Lady Indians’ team possesses plenty of depth.

“We are very comfortable going eight or nine deep,” stated CR North head coach Lou Palkovics. “I don’t mind sending five (reserves) in at a time.”

Point guard Becca Margolis and power forward Mackenzie Tinner, both seniors, usually lead the way on offense and junior Dana Bandurick is capable of posting a double-double on any given night.

“Mackenzie (Tinner), Dana (Bandurick) and Becca (Margolis) are three legitimate double-digit scorers, double-digit assists and double-digit rebounders on almost any night,” explained Palkovics.

“In those other two spots, I have five girls who are also very good.

“Those are the spots I like to rotate and give each one of them 10, 12, 15, 20 minutes.”

Take junior Sydney Blum, a second-year varsity player. In a 50-30 triumph over win over William Tennent recorded before the winter break, she exploded for 20 points. She had help from Tinner (10) and Margolis and together, the three combined on 78 percent of the team’s offense.

“It’s kind of a neat thing that we have this year where we probably have eight kids who can drop 20 at any time,” said Palkovics. “I think I’ve had a different leading scorer in almost every game this year.”

“It says two things – that they’re together as a team; they don’t really care who’s the leading scorer and that we have a lot of weapons.”

In mid-December, the Rock produced three players with double digits in a lopsided win over Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference rival Truman including Margolis (16 pts.), Bandurick (16), and classmate Olivia Boyle (13).

In the win over CR South just before the team’s trip to Florida, Margolis led the way with 11 points including a 7-for-7 shooting performance from the foul line. Tinner chipped in with 10 points, including five in the initial frame.

Junior Camryn Polinsky finished with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Bandurick came through with eight points, all in the first half.

Senior Kaelin Mealey contributed with nine points off the bench, including a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the first half.

One of three captains on the team, Mealey has been splitting starts with Boyle.

“You can see the overall energy and enthusiasm from every girl,” said Mealey. “We were able to play about 12 girls and every single player that came in off the bench played with the same amount of intensity and aggressiveness.

“All the hard work and intensity that we’ve been putting into practice was really reflected on the court.”

Whether she starts or comes in off the bench, Mealey relishes her role on the team.

“I don’t think it changes anything,” said Kaelin. “No matter who starts or comes in off the bench, I’ll always put in the same amount of energy and I know Liv (Boyle) will, too.

“It’s what you do when you’re on the floor. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you’re given.”

Three players including Margolis (16 pts.), Polinsky (11) and Tinner (10) recorded double figures in a 58-32 Indians’ triumph over SOL National Conference rival Bensalem Tuesday night, Jan. 2 on the Owls’ home court.

Leading 12-5 after the first quarter, the Rock blew the game open with 22 points in the second to take a 34-13 halftime lead into the locker room.

Margolis added five rebounds, five steals and four assists to her effort, Polinsky chipped in with four rebounds and one steal and Tinner came through with 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Also contributing were Blum (5 rebounds, 4 points), sophomore Abby Jones (5 rebounds, 4 points) and junior Juliana Shields (4 rebounds, 3 steals).

“Basketball is a funny sport – it’s like baseball; you go with the hot hand and I’m real comfortable going to the bench,” explained Palkovics.

“You kind of feel around in the first quarter to see who has the hot hand.

“But even if someone doesn’t have a hot hand in the first quarter, she’s going to get it in the third (period) so I don’t mind going back to kids.”

Council Rock also forced 25 turnovers in the contest so the Indians also know how to play on both ends of the floor.

Defending SOL National Conference champions, the Indians are coming off a 19-10 season with a trip to states. In league action, the Rock finished 11-1, one game ahead of second-place Abington at 10-2.

The Galloping Ghosts took the top prize in the 2017 District 1 6A Tournament however, with a win over Plymouth-Whitemarsh while CR North went 3-2 in the tourney with wins over Cheltenham, Conestoga and Garnet Valley to grab seventh place and a spot in states, where they lost to P-W, the same team that bounced the Rock from the D-1 quarterfinals.

The Indians are expected to travel to Abington Friday night (Jan. 5) for a showdown with the Ghosts, who travel to Neshaminy tonight (Jan. 3) for a showdown of their own with the Skins.

Neshaminy, which opened its season with a solid win over CB East, lost a pair of battles over the winter break in the Boardwalk Basketball Classic at the Wildwood Convention Center. The Skins gave both their tournament foes fits, falling by a point to Camden Catholic and by four points to Downingtown East, a state qualifier in 2016.

It all bears watching as the SOL National Conference boils over in the New Year.

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