BROOKHAVEN >> Grace Gormley spent more time on the bench this season than she ever anticipated.
One of the rocks of The Christian Academy girls basketball team, the guard missed several games due to injury.
“It was really frustrating,” Gormley said Monday night. “It was fun cheering on the team, but I missed being out there.”
The Crusaders welcomed Gormley back in the starting lineup just in time for the playoffs. Led by her sound defense and senior guard Lindsay Haseltine’s game-high 18 points, fourth-seeded TCA cruised to a 49-24 triumph over No. 6 Phil-Mont Christian in the District 1 Class A tournament third-place game.
With the win, the Crusaders (17-9) qualified for the PIAA tournament. They will play District 11 champion Weatherly at Blue Mountain High School Saturday at 4:30 in a first-round contest.
“I’m glad to be back, for sure,” said Gormley, who despite sitting all of the second quarter with foul trouble, finished with four points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals. “Going to states is a good feeling.”
Better yet, Gormley is playing at full strength again.
“We don’t go anywhere without Grace and Lindsay,” coach Jason Wilt said. “Lindsay is starting to put the onus on herself a little bit more, which is great to see. She’s a passer, and sometimes I have to beg her to shoot, but she definitely got it done for us tonight.”
Haseltine and forward/center Dejah Burley-Chambers shouldered most of the scoring load. Haseltine swished a pair of 3-pointers and shot 7-for-11 from the field with 18 points, while Burley-Chambers scored seven of her 11 points in the first quarter, when the Crusaders raced out to a 22-4 advantage.
Haseltine also posted game highs in assists (four) and steals (seven), and Burley-Chambers pulled down seven rebounds.
The Crusaders, who made 19 field goals and forced 24 turnovers, had a memorable final game on their home floor.
“We made the most of it,” said Haseltine, who will play soccer at Messiah College this fall. “We always want to come out strong and show them we are ready to play right from the start. We worked really well together as a team.”
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) March 6, 2018
Hannah Sareyka, who played extremely well while Gormley was inactive, had five of her seven points in the opening period.
“Hannah really stepped up when Grace got hurt,” Wilt said. “She’ll take care of the ball. She’s another one I have to beg to shoot, because she has a nice mid-range shot. But she definitely picked it up when Grace went out, and I told her, ‘You have to play like that even when Grace is there,’ which she is starting to get the hang of. I need all three of those guards to be good to have any sort of luck in states.”
Let’s talk about the first quarter. The Crusaders were rolling right along, out to a 20-4 lead, when Phil-Mont Christian coach Bill DeHeer was whistled
for a technical foul. DeHeer was then immediately called for a second technical foul after responding to the first one by forcibly clapping in the face of the referee. This second indiscretion got DeHeer thrown out of the gymnasium.
As one might imagine, things went from bad to worse for Phil-Mont after its head coach was ejected. Phil-Mont shot a woeful 3 of 19 from the floor in the opening half, and 7-for-35 overall, despite a gutsy effort from guards Jael Jackson, who scored seven of her nine points in the second quarter, and Savannah Renix (three points, three assists, one steal).
Haseltine prefers to play unselfishly, but she’s the team’s top shooter, so pretty much everything TCA does is centered around her making plays and scoring. While she excelled at getting other players involved Monday, Haseltine took her shots when the timing was right. Her back-to-back treys in the fourth quarter essentially put the icing on the cake.
“I’ll just shoot whenever the team needs it and if I’m open,” Haseltine said.
Haseltine, a three-sport athlete, will have to put softball on hold for at least another week. She’s happy to have played a significant part in the TCA basketball team’s success the last two seasons.
“It was our goal to get to states again at the end of the season. We did it last year and it’s nice to know we are going there again,” she said. “We put in a lot of hard work this year and it’s exciting to be able to extend the season a little bit further.”
Top photo: The Christian Academy’s (14) Grace Gormley looks to shoot in the second quarter of the District 1 Class 1A third-place game as Phil-Mont Christian (24) Grace Gilchrist defends. PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
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