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Freshmen help Hatboro-Horsham outlast Lower Moreland rally

LOWER MORELAND >> Having watched their team’s double-digit lead erode away, Hatboro-Horsham freshmen Emily Thomas and Alice Hall didn’t panic.

Playing the first road game of their high school basketball careers, Thomas and Hall didn’t look kids in just their sixth varsity game late in the fourth quarter Monday night. When the Hatters needed them, Thomas and Hall delivered against Lower Moreland.

A quick start and a gutsy finished helped Hatboro-Horsham scrape out a 48-42 win over the Lions on Monday.

“We were very aggressive when we were on defense,” Thomas said. “We played with a lot of excitement which helped us push through, because we really wanted to win.”

The night couldn’t have started much better for Hatboro-Horsham (2-4, 0-1 SOL Continental). Thomas scored the game’s first bucket right off the tip and the Hatters led 7-0 after just 70 seconds had run off the clock. Paced by point guard Cam Ryan, the visitors opened up on a 12-3 run punctuated when Thomas turned a steal into an easy layup.

For the rest of the half, the Hatters kept Lower Moreland (2-2, 1-0 BAL Independence) out of sorts offensively by not letting the Lions get comfortably into any of their sets. Lower Moreland didn’t help itself with some less than crisp passes, several getting deflected or stolen by Hatboro-Horsham and the Lions took a lot of long jumpers that aren’t their type of shot.

“We didn’t finish well tonight and they shot incredibly well to start,” LM coach Richard Becker said. “We got all the way back, then we started jacking up threes instead of working the ball around. We tied the game, took two lazy threes and to their credit, they out-hustled us tonight.”

Lower Moreland had just five field goals in the first half but trailed by just nine at halftime with Hatboro-Horsham ahead 27-18.

After the break, the Lions came out a much different team on offensively. Players were moving off the ball, passes were going where they were supposed to more often and the Lions ran their plays all the way through.

The result was an 8-2 run to start the quarter that ended with Lower Moreland outscoring the Hatters 12-5 and trailing just 32-30 going into the final frame.

“I think we got a little too comfortable after halftime,” Hall, who had all five Hatters points in the third, said. “Once they started putting more baskets in, their fans started getting our backs more and we had to step up and get back into the mindset we had at the start of the game.”

Lions forward Nicole Castor came to life in the fourth, scoring on a drive to tie the game briefly before Hall split a pair of foul shots to restore the Hatters lead. Thomas, who ended the game with 13 points, had a great steal at halfcourt and turned it into a layup for a 35-32 lead with 5:48 left.

Ceili Courduff came back with a scoop layup on a drive, then Castor surged into the lane for a basket, giving LM its first lead at 36-35 with 4:49 left.

While there was a lot of time left in the quarter, first-year Hatters coach Dennis Steinly said his team could have decided to fold up once its lead evaporated. Instead, Hatboro-Horsham chose to dig in.

“A lot of teams that aren’t accustomed to winning that give up a 10-point lead in the third quarter probably fold up their tents and lose this game, but this group battled and came back,” Steinly said. “Sydney (Kemp) did a great job on the rebounds, Emily and Alice hit some clutch shots and (senior) Kylie Halko did a nice job holding our composure on the floor and Cam, you just can’t take her off the floor.”

Thomas hit a smooth baseline jumper to put the Hatters up again, but Castor responded with a bucket to tilt favor back to LM, 38-37 with 3:37 left.

The Hatters would score the next eight points, with Hall getting a basket and splitting a pair of foul shots, Thomas pushing the lead up to four and capped by Kemp finishing a layup through contact and hitting the free throw for a 45-38 lead.

“We have a lot of passion for the game,” Hall said. “Our defense makes us work and talk a lot, so that keeps us going and motivated.”

“Once one player starts to get it going, the whole team follows and steps up,” Thomas added. “Cam Ryan was really stepping up all game. She motivates all of us.”

Ryan only had six points, but she was all over the floor defensively in the fourth and had two big rebounds in the frame. After Lower Moreland’s Phoebe Lynch drained a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left, Ryan hit a key free throw to put HH up 46-42 five seconds later.

While Ryan missed the second, Hall had her back. The freshman forward, who led the Hatters with 15 points, rebounded the missed foul shot, then grabbed another offensive rebound off a missed foul shot 10 seconds later.

Hall, who pulled down eight total rebounds, had six of them on the offensive end.

 “People always say rebounds take no skill, it’s just if you want it,” Hall said. “I told myself ‘I have to get these rebounds,’ so I got the rebounds. It’s just what I do, I try really hard no matter what it is. You have to want it more than everyone else.”

Lower Moreland will have to shake off the loss quickly as it heads to Jenkintown on Tuesday with a matchup against the defending PIAA Class A champions in a BAL crossover game. It’s always a big game for the Lions, so Becker felt his team would be ready.

Hatboro-Horsham travels to Wissahickon in SOL American play.

“It’s been an adjustment learning the plays and the new players, but they’ve helped us a lot,” Thomas said. “This game should be good motivation for us.”

“This was our first away game, so it was our first time dealing with a crowd,” Hall said. “We’re learning, we’re growing and we’re ready to crush it.”

HATBORO HORSHAM 21 6 5 16 – 48
LOWER MORELAND 14 4 12 12 – 42
Hatboro-Horsham: Emily Thomas 6 1-2 13, Cam Ryan 2 1-2 6, Kylie Halko 2 1-3 7, Alice Hall 6 2-4 15, Kara Kaminski 2 0-0 4, Sydney Kemp 1 1-1 3. Totals: 19 6-12 48.
Lower Moreland: Riley Malone 1 0-0 3, Phoebe Lynch 5 4-4 17, Alexandre Krutsinger 1 2-2 5, Nicole Castor 4 1-2 9, Ceili Courduff 3 2-2 8, Maggie McGarry 1 1-2 3. Totals:15 10-13 42.
3-pointers: HH – Halko 2, Hall, Ryan; LM – Lynch 3, Malone, Krutsinger

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