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Bealer starts quick, Souderton tops CB South for SOL tournament title

Souderton's Megan Walbrandt drives to the basket during the SOL tournament final against Central Bucks South on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

FRANCONIA >> Souderton’s defense is good in a close game, so when the Indians can get any type of lead, it gets even better.

Thanks to a hot start by Megan Bealer, Souderton opened up a quick lead of several possessions and let its shot blocking proficient defense do the rest. The Indians took and early eight-point lead in the Suburban One League tournament final against Central Bucks South and never looked back.

Playing in its home gym, Souderton topped the Titans 48-29 to win its first SOL tournament Monday night.

“In warm-ups, none of my shots were going in and usually when that happens it can knock me off,” Bealer said. “I don’t really know what it was. Once I made my first shot, I started thinking this is my game and I have to make sure I don’t let a miss get to me. With my teammates, we all motivate each other.”

Souderton’s Alana Cardona shoots over a Central Bucks South defender during the SOL tournament final on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Bealer hit two threes as the Indians (22-2) leapt up to a 7-0 lead and her driving layup made it 10-2 with 4:42 left in the first quarter. As Indians coach Lynn Carroll said, there isn’t much scouting that needs to be done between the two SOL Continental rivals and the Indians knew what they had to do on defense.

Souderton blocked 10 shots as a team, and their length on the interior made things extremely difficult for the Titans (21-3) all game. The Indians led 16-7 after the first quarter and while South senior Haley Meinel had five points, she was just 1-of-4 while point guard Alexa Brodie missed all four of her attempts.

“They’re two tough kids to defend and they’re going to take the majority of their shots so we did such a good job with our help defense,” Carroll said. “We made it hard for them to get into a flow. I also think, when you drive to the basket and get your shot blocked, you second guess if you want to do it again, or if you do, maybe you don’t quite have the confidence you normally have.”

Megan Walbrandt, who guarded Meinel, had three blocks, Alana Cardona stuffed three shots and senior Kate Connolly sent four attempts packing. Souderton’s strength is blocking without fouling, which Connolly said is a byproduct of just going straight up and down and using their length.

“It’s kind of funny, we all have really long arms so putting them up in the air, it’s really helpful having that extra length,” Connolly said. “We just want to go straight up and make them shoot it over us, you have to feel it and I think we all have that sense when to take it and when to let it go.”

Souderton took its first double-digit lead on Sami Falencki’s hoop in the second quarter and maintained the edge into the half with a 24-11 lead. Meinel and Brodie had a combined nine points at the half as the Indians made their driving forays to the basket as tough as possible.

Brodie left the game with 2:27 left in the third quarter after taking the brunt of a collision under the basket drawing an offensive foul and didn’t return.

Bealer has been one of Souderton’s most consistent players all season but has done it relatively quietly. The junior, who is a knockdown outside shooter is also a force on the glass who has led the team in rebounding all season according to Carroll.

“Megan’s really been playing well, she’s had a great season for us, lightyears beyond last year,” Carroll said. “It always seems like she’s the fifth kid that’s mentioned but the stuff she does is a big part of why we’re as successful as we are.”

Souderton’s Kate Connolly pulls up for a jump shot as Central Bucks South’s Caroline McSorley defends during the SOL tournament final on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The junior stands 5-foot-8 so it is a bit startling to see her top the rebounding charts on a team with a 6-foot-2, 6-foot and 5-11 players in the frontcourt. Some of her chances come from cleaning up her teammates’ blocks, but Bealer has an ability to appear from a scrum with the ball.

Being such a skilled shooter, Bealer said she can look at another player’s shot and have an idea if it’s not going in which gives her a jump on going after the board. Mostly though, it comes down to wanting it.

“I just kind of sneak in there, I don’t think people expect it out of me because I’m not as tall as my teammates,” Bealer said. “I just get myself in there. I start to go for it right when they shoot it and I don’t think a lot of people really do that.”

Souderton got a little sloppy late and South put together an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter, but the Indians’ lead was never threatened. Meinel led the Titans with 13 points.

The Indians will now turn to the District I 6A tournament, where they claimed the No. 1 seed with the Titans taking No. 2.

“We definitely were fired up tonight,” Bealer said. “This wasn’t something that was going to help or hurt us in our placing, but we wanted the championship.”

SOUDERTON 16 8 10 14 – 48
Souderton: Alana Cardona 6 3-3 15, Megan Bealer 4 0-0 11, Tori Dowd 0 1-4 1, Megan Walbrandt 3 0-0 7, Kate Connolly 2 5-7 9, Sami Falencki 2 0-0 5, Megan O’Donnell 0 2-2 2. Nonscoring: Erica Stephens, Mikaela Reese, Jordan Zimmerman. Totals: 17 11-16 48.
Central Bucks South: Haley Meinel  5 3-4 13, Natalie DiSandro 1 0-1 2, Alexa Brodie 2 0-0 4, Maddie McShane 4 0-0 8, Mackenzie Ehresman 0 1-2 1, Allie Burke 0 1-2 1. Nonscoring: Caroline McSorley, Sophia Sonnett, Madison Aldinger. Totals: 12 5-9 29.



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