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Springfield still rules day in ‘McNichol Bowl’

LOWER MERION >> Someday, Kacy McNichol will get the best of her sister Ky on a basketball court.

The twins met for a fourth time in two seasons Friday night. Ky’s team has won the game — known as the Twin Bowl or McNichol Bowl in family circles — each time as Springfield earned a 59-34 decision over Harriton.

Last March, Ky guided Springfield program’s first District 1 championship after a brief rebuilding phase. Kacy hopes to reach similar heights at Harriton.

“I’m proud of everything she has done at Springfield and this is always a love-hate game for us,” Kacy said. “My kids compete as best as they can, but it’s a unique situation. We’re rebuilding a program and they’re at the top of their game right now.”

The sisters treat their head-to-head battles as one would imagine. There is pride and bragging rights at stake. The challenge is to put aside their close-knit relationship twice a season and go to work.

At the end of the night, they were in lockstep discussing basketball strategy and asking for scores from around the Central League. As anyone who knows Ky and kacy McNichol might expect.

“It’s a unique situation because nobody else gets to coach against your sister who you are best friends with for 364 days of the year, and there’s this one hour when you have to be opponents. That can be tricky,” Ky McNichol said. “I’m very, very proud of what Kacy has done with the program. It’s not easy to have ONLY eight varsity players and they work hard every single night. I think she’s doing a fabulous job.”

Springfield (13-4, 10-2) is preparing to make another run in the Central League, district and state playoffs. Harriton is taking a longview approach. The Rams had a two-game winning streak coming into Friday night, with victories against Lower Merion and Upper Darby.

Springfield is playing with a purpose following recent losses to Central League frontrunner Garnet Valley and Haverford. The Cougars put together one of their finest performances Friday night.

Consider the statistics: The Cougars had 18 assists on 23 made baskets and shot nearly 50 percent (23 of 47) from the floor. Belle Mastropietro filled up the stat sheet with game highs in points (18), rebounds (eight) and steals (three). Alexa Abbonizio, a sharpshooting freshman guard, poured in 14 points. Alyssa Long, a defensive-minded sophomore guard, added eight points, seven rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals. The Cougars outrebounded the Rams, 35-16.

“I think after the Haverford loss (last week), we started to realize that we weren’t unbeatable,” Long said. “How we did last year doesn’t matter this year. We are getting to that point where we are really finding ourselves. With our freshmen and everyone coming in this year, we’re starting to really understand how we can play together as a team.”

Springfield and Harriton were tied at 18 in the second period thanks in large part to Harriton junior guard Christina Brown, who tallied 11 of her team’s 18 points in the quarter. Brown drilled a 3-point field goal to even the score.

Mastropietro, Long and the Cougars enhanced their defensive pressure and racked up a bunch of baskets in transition. They closed the first half on a 7-0 run. With five seconds to go, Long dribbled the length of the court and hit a running shot as time expired in the quarter. The Cougars pulled away with a 13-3 run in the third period.

“When we can get into transition, it helps us because we don’t rely so much on the 3-pointer,” Long said. “When we start relying on the 3 too much, we get discouraged when the shots don’t fall in. That’s when we get stagnant on offense. When we run the floor, it helps our momentum, helps our energy and we just come together as a team when we push the ball.”

Jordan Postiglione came off the bench to add seven points and Jordan D’Ambrosio chipped in with four points, five rebounds and one assist.

Brown led the way for Harriton with 18 points and Meg Wilcox tossed in 10.

“We’ve talked to Christina about being a leader … and she’s got a lot of pressure on her shoulders to carry this team to where we want to go,” Kacy McNichol said. “She’s put up some big numbers for us.”

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