DILLSBURG >> All season, the Plymouth Whitemarsh girls basketball team has preached just that, team.
Sure they have an all-state player in Taylor O’Brien, but the senior is usually the first to deflect credit onto her teammates. After O’Brien dominated the first half of Friday night’s PIAA 6A first round game with Central York, her teammates backed up all that talk after halftime.
With everybody producing, the Colonials beat the Panthers 58-43 at Northern York High School and advanced to the second round on Tuesday, where they will face Neshaminy.
“They have confidence in themselves and in their abilities,” PW coach Dan Dougherty said. “Taylor has confidence in them as well, she has no hesitation to pass the ball to the open kid. So much of our design offensively is read-and-react and most of the time, we’re making good decisions.”
O’Brien led PW with 20 points, scoring 15 of them in a first half where the District 3 runner-up Panthers had no answer for her. PW (23-5) needed all of those points with the rest of the team firing to a 2-of-10 clip and second-leading scorer Lauren Fortescue mostly rooted to the bench in foul trouble.
Gia Schweitzer opened the game with a 3-pointer for PW, which Dougherty called a good omen, but the only other non-O’Brien points came from freshman post Anna McTamney. CY also switched to a hybrid 2-1-2 and 3-2 zone defense that seemed to slow down the Colonials late in the first half where they took a 20-18 lead to the break.
“We kept the ball moving a lot,” McTamney said of the second half. “We got it rolling, we kept our plays going and it led to a lot of open shots to take.”
McTamney did have an impact early, battling CY’s top rebounder Teirra Preston down low and getting the senior forward in early foul trouble. In the second half, with CY still in its zone, McTamney asserted herself more into the offense and finished with 11 points for the game.
She also scored possibly the most pivotal basket in the game. Late in the fourth quarter, with CY on an 8-0 run, Fortescue pump-faked on the perimeter, drove the baseline and dished to McTamney with the freshman finishing through contact for a 43-38 edge.
“After we made shots, we knew we could keep making them,” McTamney said. “We kept pushing the ball up the floor and taking good shots.”
Aside from McTamney, Fortescue and senior Ali Diamond were instrumental in the second half. Diamond scored all 12 of her points after halftime, with half that total coming in the fourth quarter as she went 6-of-6 at the line in the final 44 seconds.
Diamond also buried two 3-pointers in the third quarter, assisted a three by Sydney Kesselman and fed McTamney for a basket in the post as PW out-scored the Panthers 19-10 in the frame.
It was Fortescue who played the role of finisher.
“I knew I had to step up because I was struggling the whole game,” Fortescue said. “It felt great.”
The senior canned a left-side three off an O’Brien pass with 1:48 left for a 46-38 lead and after a PW stop on defense, O’Brien went back to Fortescue. This time, the guard hit the shot and got fouled doing so, stepping to the line and putting her side up 50-38 with 1:13 left.
“It was a close game at the point and I really didn’t do much all night so I was pretty confident and I knew I had to do something,” Fortescue said. “On the second one, I just shot it and I think she just kept running at me.”
A hoop by McTamney had put PW up 41-30 with 6:50 to go in the game, but the Panthers roared back with the next eight points. Central abandoned its zone and went to an aggressive trapping man defense that led to a few PW turnovers to fuel an 8-0 run.
Once the freshman’s finish of Fortescue’s pass restored some order, the Colonials were able to finish the game on a 17-5 run.
“Someone mentioned before the game ‘you have a freshman starting?’ and I said she can handle it,” Dougherty said. “I think she’s one of the top 10 players in our conference. You look at some of the bigs she’s battled, Jackie Vargas twice and Kassondra Brown twice, that experience pays off and there was no intimidation going out there tonight.”
PW beat Neshaminy earlier this postseason in seeding playbacks but that’s completely different from a state playoff game.
O’Brien scored five points after halftime but none in the fourth quarter. She didn’t need to. Her teammates had her back.
“We didn’t want to lose so we came out here, played our hearts out and we get to go home with a win,” McTamney said. “Everyone contributes and we’re all well-rounded players, we just trust each other.”
PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 58, CENTRAL YORK 43
PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 12 8 19 18 – 58
CENTRAL YORK 11 7 10 15 – 43
Plymouth Whitemarsh: Taylor O’Brien 8 3-4 20, Lauren Fortescue 2 1-1 7, Gia Schweitzer 1 2-2 5, Ali Diamond 2 6-6 12, Anna McTamney 5 1-3 11, Sydney Kesselman 1 0-0 3. Nonscoring: Haley Zygmunt. Totals: 19 13-16 58
Central York: Valencik 5 5-7 16, Wagner 1 1-4 3, Sepic 3 0-0 9, Preston 6 0-0 12, Marley 1 0-0 3. Totals: 16 6-11 43
3-pointers: PW – Diamond 2, Fortescue 2, O’Brien, Kesselman, Schweitzer; CY – Sepic 3, Marley, Valencik.
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