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Souderton’s complete game tops Neumann-Goretti

PHILADELPHIA >> Megan Walbrandt may have the most thankless job around.

The Souderton junior is given the task of guarding the opposing team’s most dangerous scoring threat and in her last two games, that assignment included Central Bucks West’s Maddie Burke on Thursday and Neumann-Goretti’s Jabria Ingram on Saturday. It’s not necessarily a fun job, but it’s one Walbrandt excels at.

Ask Walbrandt about it and the first thing she’ll extoll is the effort of her teammates.

Souderton needed and got a full team effort against the three-time defending 3A state champs and topped the Saints 48-28 Sunday as part of the Play-By-Play Classics Maggie Lucas Classic at Jefferson University.

“The mindset I have help behind me makes it possible for me and Tori (Dowd) to get up and play the defense we do,” Walbrandt said. “The fact Kate (Connolly), Alana (Cardona) and (Megan) Bealer are all around to help on drives, because our main goal is to not let them drive, they help us when we need help.”

Walbrandt held Ingram to just nine points and forced the Hartford recruit into a 3-of-13 shooting night. Souderton (10-2, 3-1 SOL Continental) played terrific team basketball, with Walbrandt and Cardona sharing the team lead with 10 points each, Connolly and Bealer scoring nine, Dowd six and Megan O’Donnell four in a quick spark off the bench.

Neumann-Goretti (6-5, 3-0 PCL) is a difficult team to play against, mixing tremendous athletic ability with size and strength and there’s nothing the Saints like more than pressuring up in the face of their opponent. Walbrandt said that was the toughest thing to adjust to in the first quarter, but the Indians relied on their balance and cohesion to combat all that pressure.

“The theme of the night for us was contributions from everybody on both ends of the court,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “Offensively, the way we kept moving the ball around and finding the open person, we weren’t settling, we were going to get a good look. Most possessions, after a bit of a shaky start, got the shot we wanted.”

Ingram beat the first quarter buzzer to hand the Saints a 9-7 edge, and N-G scored the first five points of the second quarter for a 14-7 edge. Carroll called a timeout and her team responded by adapting to the pressure defensively and working relentlessly on the offensive end to string together a 13-0 run to end the half up 20-14.

At the break, Souderton had five players each with four points and Walbrandt said the coaches kept telling the team to keep using that balance and work to find the open player. Soudy carried the run over with the first hoop of the third quarter, but the Saints roared back on a 9-0 run to take a 23-20 lead.

“We kept ourselves together and were picking each other up. If someone lets up a point, we couldn’t get discouraged and just had to work twice as hard on defense to get back and stop the ball,” Walbrandt said. “We saw the court extremely well and gave the ball up to the more open person. The fact we’ve been playing together for two years now, we know what each other is going to do.”

Souderton answered Goretti’s third quarter run with a 10-0 spell of its own, with four different players contributing at least a basket. Cardona’s energy seemed infectious with the senior shaking off a poor shooting first half and scrapping for every rebound possible.

Sometimes the key to stopping a team like the Saint is not allowing second chance opportunities. Souderton worked the glass as well as it played defense and swung the ball, with Cardona ripping down 11 boards and Connolly snaring seven misses. They’re expected to do that though, but guard Megan Bealer has been more than holding her own.

The junior pulled down 11 rebounds, four on the offensive end and was just all over the court.

After an Ingram free throw ended Souderton’s run, the Indians just started another one. Megan O’Donnell started it with a bit of an audacious runner right into the teeth of the Saints defense and really got it going with another floating shot that made it five straight Big Red points.

“Megan O’Donnell gave us a really good spark off the bench,” Carroll said. “She’s a kid who plays zero minutes one night and 16 the next and never really knows what her role is going to be in a given game. She goes in, hits two floaters down the lane and plays great defense.”

It ended up being another 10-0 run that ran from the 6:54 mark of the fourth quarter to the  3:35 mark and put the Indians up 42-24. Walbrandt continued to stick Ingram while Cardona and Connolly provided some punch on the back end of the defense.

The senior duo of forwards had five of their combined five blocks in the fourth, with Cardona (four blocks in the game) putting a little extra emphasis on two of her swats.

“I think we could tell they were getting frustrated just by the way they were driving to the basket,” Walbrandt said. “We were always there and behind each other. Kate and Alana did a great job and so did Bealer getting so many defensive and offensive rebounds and getting us back into our offense.”

Form the 4:24 mark of the third quarter until 2:51 remained in the final period, Souderton had a 22-3 scoring edge.

The Indians will try to carry that into the coming week, with games against William Tennent and Pennridge before a trip to Central Bucks South on Friday in a contest with colossal SOL Continental implications.

“We need to build this win into our confidence and take that momentum and know we are as good as any team we play,” Walbrandt said. “We want to keep sharing the ball and playing good team defense.”

SOUDERTON 48, NEUMANN-GORETTI 28
SOUDERTON 7 13 12 16 – 48
NEUMANN-GORETTI 9 5 9 5 – 28
Souderton: Tori Dowd 3 0-0 6, Megan Bealer 3 3-4 9, Alana Cardona 4 2-2 10, Megan Walbrandt 3 3-4 10, Kate Connolly 3 3-5 9, Megan O’Donnell 2 0-0 4. Nonscoring: Erica Stephens, Sami Falencki. Totals: 18 11-15 48.
Neumann-Goretti: Koger 3 0-0 6, Parmley 1 0-0 2, Jones 5 0-2 11, Ingram 3 3-9 9. Totals: 12 3-11 28.
3-pointers: S – Walbrandt, NG – Jones.

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