By Jeff Moeller
NORTHAMPTON >> Megan Bealer and Megan Walbrandt helped Souderton go out and efficiently took care of their business Friday night.
At least, most of the night.
The recent district champs were overall methodical and effective all in a 58-34 win over Manheim Township in in a PIAA Class 6A opening-round game at Council Rock South High School.
With the win, Souderton (27-2), the top seed from District One, meet District 11’s Easton Tuesday at the site and time yet to be determined.
Bealer had 13 of her game-high 18 points in the opening half and Walbrandt had 11 of her 13 points before halftime in which the Indians had a commanding 34-15 halftime lead.
“With both Megans shooting well before halftime, that proved to be the difference,” said Souderton head coach Lynn Carroll. “Both of them had not been shooting well and they were both a little bit down on themselves.
“For them to show up tonight with confidence was huge for us.”
Their lone blemish was in third quarter in which they struggled, hitting only two of 17 shots from the field. Souderton missed first six shots of second half until Bealer ended the drought with a three with 4:04 remaining that gave them a 37-24 cushion.
“It was a little uncomfortable to start the third quarter,” added Carroll of the Indians’ third-quarter shooting woes. “But we have so many players who can make plays and it was a matter of someone stepping up for us.”
“We shot so well in the first half, and we just couldn’t get a shot to fall in the third,” added Bealer, who also had 10 rebounds. “We relied on our defense and we play so well together.”
Walbrandt credited the Indians’ defense that managed to keep Manheim Central (19-8), the seventh seed from District 3, off balance most of the night.
“Our defense really didn’t let up,” she said. “We shot well to begin the game and we couldn’t get some shots to fall in the second half.”
Kate Connolly, who had nine of her 17 points in the final quarter, hit a foul-line jumper gave them a 20-point cushion and basically sealed the night for the Indians at 52-32 with 3:40 remaining in the game.
With both teams looking sluggish in the early minutes, Souderton quickly rounded its form and moved out to a 11-4 lead and eventually held a 19-9 advantage after one quarter as Bealer drained three of the Indians five three-pointers in the stanza.
Manheim Township, which couldn’t find its rhythm throughout the opening half and looked tense, cut into the deficit to cut the lead to 19-14 in the first minute of second quarter, but the Indians went on a 9-0 spurt and doubled-up the Blue Streaks at 28-14.
From there, the Indians ballooned the margin to 34-15 with just over three minutes left before Manheim Township responded with a 6-0 run in the final two minutes to trim the lead to 34-21 at halftime.
“We got our first win now and it’s a relief,” added Bealer about the state win. “Now, we just have to take one game at a time.”
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