RADNOR >> All-Delco guards Kenzie Gardler and Maura Hendrixson both received the message, loud and clear.
At halftime, Cardinal O’Hara coach Linus McGinty wanted to see a new offensive approach. It was pretty simple: Stop relying on the outside shot and start driving to the hoop.
“Mr. McGinty really emphasized at halftime that more people have to go to the basket and be a threat,” Gardler said. “Maura really took that to heart …”
To be fair, O’Hara and Archbishop Carroll both failed to light up the scoreboard in the first half. They combined to shoot 11-for-43 from the floor. O’Hara can shoot the 3-ball better than any team in the county, but it struggled from long distance (1-for-12) as the host Patriots held a three-point lead at the break.
Gardler and Hendrixson vowed to take control in the third quarter. Hendrixson was 4-for-4 from the field with nine points, two steals and an assist. Gardler set up three of Hendrixson’s four baskets.
“Our shots weren’t falling in the first half, so at halftime we talked about how we’ve got to take care of our defense, box out and get rebounds,” said Hendrixson, who had 13 points, three assists and three steals.“We knew our shots would take care of themselves, and they did.”
“She really went to the basket every time and that was really big for us,” Gardler said of Hendrixson. “She was really successful with that, so we just kept pounding down.”
O’Hara shot a crisp 53.3 percent (8-for-15) in the second half, but needed a comeback effort in the fourth quarter to defeat Carroll, 36-33. Sophomore forward Stephanie Huseby made the go-ahead free throws with two minutes to play.
Huseby, who transferred from Shawnee High in Medford Lakes, N.J. has had a few clutch moments for the Lions (8-2). After she put them in front, Huseby got a rebound off a Harlem Jennings miss, then Hendrixson went 2-for-2 at the foul line for the final points of the game.
“The team is really very welcoming, especially the captains: Kenzie, Maura and Molly. They really have welcomed me
a lot and they all have been so nice,” Huseby said. She is getting her first taste of what it’s like to play in important Catholic League games.
“I know Mr. McGinty used to coach at Carroll and they are one of our biggest rivals, so this was a huge game for us,” said Huseby, who finished with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds. “It started out a little slow offensively, but we eventually got that back and our shots started falling in the second half.”
Huseby has been a vital addition to a Lions team that has gone years without a true starting big. You have go back five years when Lisa Mintzer, who went on to play at La Salle, was roaming the middle.
“It’s really an advantage for us,” said Gardler, who tossed in six of her 11 points in the final stanza. She added three assists and four rebounds. “It’s our first time having a true post. It’s different and we’re still trying to get a feel for it, but she’s really doing a good job in her first year playing for a Catholic League team. It’s a big transition for her and she’s doing really well as a sophomore.”
Carroll (9-4) led by five points on two occasions in the fourth quarter. Masciantonio drilled a 3-pointer to give the Patriots a 29-24 lead and Jennings (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists) hit a free throw to make it 33-28. Gardler then made a layup and Molly Paolino came up with a steal to set up a short jump shot by Hendrixson to cut O’Hara’s deficit to a point with 2:23 to go. On O’Hara’s next possession, Huseby banked a pair of free throws to give the Lions a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After falling to Neumann-Goretti last week, the reigning champion Lions needed a bounce-back victory against a tough Catholic League foe.
“I think we’re starting to realize we’re a good team. It’s a lot different than last year, but we’re finding what we do well at, which is hustling, rebounding and doing all the little things,” Gardler said. “We really came together at the end. That was really the first game that we came back from when we were down. We were down against Rutgers Prep (N.J.) that we couldn’t come back from, and we got down against Neumann-Goretti and we couldn’t come back. So this is really the first game we were down and were able to come back. That really motivated us.”
Erin Sweeney paced Carroll with 13 points, including 11 in the first half, and senior guard Molly Masciantonio had a good floor game with four points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.
“I don’t know what it was, but my shots weren’t falling in the first half and I wasn’t being really aggressive in the second half. I basically put the blame on myself,” Masciantonio said. “We have to concentrate and focus more. At the end of the game, (coach Renie Shields) drew up a play and we weren’t focused. That was the difference, too. We just weren’t focused the entire time.”
In another Catholic League game:
Neumann-Goretti 46, Bonner & Prendergast 43 >> Emily Monaghan missed a would-be game-tying 3-pointer as time expired. Ariana McGeary had nine points to pace the Pandas (8-5, 4-1), while Dakota McCaughan added eight points, five rebounds and four assists. Alexis Gleason chipped in with seven points and five rebounds.
Top photo: Maura Hendrixson scored all 13 of her points after halftime to help Cardinal O’Hara to a 36-33 Catholic League victory over Archbishop Carroll.
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