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Orihel helps Archbishop Wood top Cardinal O’Hara in defensive battle

MARPLE >> Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach Mike McDonald had a message for Kaitlyn Orihel.

McDonald felt like Friday night’s game against Cardinal O’Hara was going to be a good one for the freshman guard/forward. Orihel’s already had a few really solid performances for the Vikings, but she really proved her coach right on the road against the Lions.

Orihel scored a game-high 14 points and added five rebounds as the Vikings gutted out a 33-29 overtime win against O’Hara.

“I was seeing open shots and even if I was off, I knew to keep shooting and eventually they were going to fall,” Orihel said. “They started to fall for me.

“I’m more comfortable after the time we’ve spent practicing. You get to run the offense with the girls and become more comfortable with the rest of the team.”

As expected, the game featured a lot of rock-solid defense from both teams and scoring of any sort was hard to come by. Wood’s defense, which wasn’t up to its usual standard in a loss to Sanford (Del.) as part of a Play-by-Play Classics showcase on Sunday, looked much more like its usual self.

Part of the reason for that was Orihel, who was given the assignment of shadowing O’Hara senior and Drexel signee Maura Hendrixson. Ryleigh Parsons was tasked primarily with covering Lions guard Kenzie Gardler, a Villanova recruit, and Wood contributed plenty of help defense to both O’Hara seniors.

“We had three days of practice and all we said was don’t let (Gardler) and (Hendrixson) beat us,” McDonald said. “If their other kids beat us, then they beat us. We were chasing them around the whole time, he had help defenders concerned with them and really had two kids playing each of them at all times and it worked out for us tonight.”

O’Hara’s only lead in the entire game came after a Siobhan Boylan 3-pointer in overtime but even that didn’t last long with Orihel putting her team back up for good on the following possession. Wood (10-5, 6-1 PCL) scored the first six points of the game and led 8-6 after the first quarter.

The Vikings held Gardler and Hendrixson to a combined five points. Hendrixson was shaken up battling for a rebound off a missed free throw with 15.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game.

While the Lions (8-3, 4-2) did get some good looks throughout the game, O’Hara junior guard Kerry Patterson credited the Vikings for slowing her team down.

“They’re really good at defense,” Patterson said. “We need to set our screens, go back door and use what they gave us,” Patterson said. “We had to work through what they were doing. If we attacked the lane more, we probably could have gotten more shots.”

Wood was never able to pull away thanks to an equally tough O’Hara defensive effort. The Lions held Vikings senior Katie May, a Northeastern signee, scoreless and gave up very few open attempts.

Orihel scored nine points in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second half meaning Wood had to look elsewhere for its points. That answer came from junior Mia Andrews off the bench, with the guard scoring all 11 of her points in the second half and overtime.

“She really got it going for us,” McDonald said. “She hit a couple threes, she made foul shots and defensively she was much better tonight. I’m really proud of her.”

Andrews staked the Vikings to a 24-21 lead with eight seconds left after her teammates had secured the offensive rebound following the missed free throw with 15.5 left. O’Hara dribbled across midcourt and called a timeout with 4.1 seconds to go.

With the Vikings focusing on Gardler, they had a rare breakdown defensively and left the part of the 3-point arc occupied by Patterson wide open. The junior, who led O’Hara with eight points, banked in the game-tying trey just before the horn.

“I don’t even remember it happening, I just remember Maura had gotten hurt and Molly (Paolino) fouled out so somebody else had to step up and we had to get the shot off,” Patterson said. “I kind of just chucked it up at the last second. Our coaches just said get a three and get it up there.”

After Orihel staked her team to a one-point lead with a strong drive to the basket, the Vikings got a stop and found May in the post. The senior sucked in the defense then zipped a pass to the opposite corner where Orihel was wide-open, with the freshman burying the 3-pointer for a 31-27 edge.

“I saw a little area where I would have my space for the drive, so I figured why not take it,” Orihel said. “Hitting that three, our energy was boosted and we knew it was our game to win at that point.”

History was not lost on Patterson, who noted that the Vikings topped O’Hara in a defensive grind last year during the regular season. She also cited the fact that the two teams met again in February at the Palestra, with O’Hara coming out on top as the PCL champions.

“This is a tough game every single year,” Patterson said. “You have to keep in mind to never give up because they’re never going to give up. You have to be ready, they’re going to run through their plays no matter what.”

It was a good win for Wood, but the Vikings don’t have a lot of time to celebrate. They face Garnet Valley on Sunday as part of the Hoops for Hope showcase at USciences, then take on Bonner-Prendergast and Archbishop Carroll in PCL play next week.

“It doesn’t get any easier, but they should feel good about this,” McDonald said. “It should boost their confidence and hopefully they roll through with it.”

ARCHBISHOP WOOD 33, CARDINAL O’HARA 29 (OT)
ARCHBISHOP WOOD 8 5 6 5  9 – 33
CARDINAL O’HARA 6 6 4 8 5 – 29
AW: Kaitlyn Orihel 6 0-1 14, Ryleigh Parsons 1 1-2 4, Annie Whalen 0 1-2 1, Erin Morgan 1 0-0 3, Mia Andrews 2 5-6 11. Nonscoring: Katie May, Bridget Arcidiacono. Totals: 10 9-11 33.
CO: Kerry Patterson 3 1-2 8, Molly Paolino 2 0-0 5, Kenzie Gardler 1 1-2 4, Maura Hendrixson 0 1-2 1, Erin Welde 1 1-2 3, Siobhan Boylan 2 0-0 6, Emily Helms 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Stephanie Huseby, Meghan Ricker. Totals: 10 4-8 29.
3-pointers: AW – Andrews 2, Orihel 2, Parsons, Morgan; CO – Boylan 2, Patterson, Gardler, Paolino.

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