RIDLEY TWP. — It’s exam week and the Radnor girls basketball team is busy cramming. It’s an exhausting and stressful time for everyone.
“We had a father-daughter game Sunday and came back (Tuesday) and practiced,” junior forward Ellie Mueller said. “It was a mess.”
Ridley was in the same boat.
“It’s not an excuse, obviously,” Radnor coach Mark Jordan said. “But it’s just a bad week. Kids are up until 2 a.m. studying, and they have a lot on their plate.”
Radnor’s junior varsity team headed home after its game Wednesday. Meanwhile the varsity team went ahead and used its own transportation to arrive at Ridley in time.
“We were kind of out of it,” junior guard Julia Rigolizzo said. “Some of us got here late and our warm-up wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”
Thus, this Central League battle wasn’t pretty. It was very much ugly at times. But Radnor found a way to overcome a porous three quarters or so and escape with a 36-28 victory over a plucky Ridley team.
“They played real hard, so you have to give Ridley a lot of credit,” Jordan said.
For Radnor, the victory was its sixth in a row. Every game is critical as it fights for third place in the Central League and a ticket to the conference playoffs next month.
This one wasn’t a piece of art but Radnor will take it.
“I guess it shows that we have a lot of grit,” senior forward Holly Holtsberg said.
Holtsberg was grittier than most down the stretch. She scored the go-ahead basket with two minutes left. She then made a three-point play and helped seal the win at the free-throw line.
“Even when we’re down like that, we all come together to win it out,” said Holtsberg, who scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter and added 12 rebounds.
Combined, the teams committed 47 turnovers and shot 25-for-109 (22.9 percent) from the floor.
Ultimately, the Main Line Raiders persevered and showed why they should be considered among the top programs in the Central League. Their strong performances in recent weeks earned them the No. 7 spot in this week’s Daily Times Super 7.
“Everyone has a lot on their mind and you tend to bring it with you, as much as you don’t want to,” said Mueller, who finished with game highs in points (nine), rebounds (18) and steals (four). “We really needed to rally tonight. At halftime, we just knew that this is not the way we wanted it to be going right now. Nothing was clicking. It was tough.”
Even when things were going badly, which was often, Radnor didn’t depart from its run-and-gun model. Get the rebound and run the floor, a Jordan staple. Radnor had plenty of missed layups and putbacks, which put the entire team in a bind.
“I don’t know how many shots we missed inside the paint. … Those shots just weren’t falling for us,” Jordan said.
But Radnor stayed the course.
“That’s our base. If all else fails, that’s kind of what we have, is our running game,” Mueller said. “It’s what (Jordan) says — even if we can’t outplay a team, we can outrun them. And, if we can outrun them, we can win.”
Ridley hung with Radnor the entire way. The host squad overcame a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Mackenzie Griffith banked a 3-ball, Paige Gabrielle got a steal and a layup, and Shannen Hinchey scored off a turnover to tie things up at 28 with three minutes to go.
“It was definitely a physical game,” Mueller said. “We’ve actually come out of games where we’re playing some physical teams, which is cool. We were prepared in that aspect, to an extent, but having exams and other stuff on our mind wasn’t helpful tonight. But we’ll get over it and move on.”
Jordan didn’t hesitate to go to his bench when the starters were struggling early. Rigolizzo stepped up and hit a pair of 3-pointers to go with three rebounds and two steals, while Cierra Hopson added five points and four rebounds.
“We all play with a lot of heart and we get mad quick. I think that helps us play as a team and pull together when things aren’t going well,” Rigolizzo said. “We just try to all hype each other up. When someone makes a big play, let’s get the energy up. You just hope that it all spreads to everyone on the team.”
Mueller and Holtsberg were big factors in helping Radnor (13-3, 8-3) win the battle on the glass, 50-33. Morgan Chapman grabbed a team-high 10 boards for Ridley (7-10, 4-7).
Shannen Hinchey led the way for Ridley with eight points and three steals. Shannon McKee hopped off the bench to get six points and four rebounds, while Gabriele added five points, four steals and three assists.
Radnor sets its sights to Springfield Friday night.
“They ended our season last year,” Mueller said. “We know we have to play them tough.”
Elsewhere in the Central League:
Haverford 44, Strath Haven 40 >> Annalena O’Reilly made a pair of free throws in the clutch to help the Fords secure the win. Lindsey Lane led three Haverford players in double digits with 15 points. Erin Doherty tossed in 11 points and O’Reilly added 10.
Alisha Lewis paced the Panthers with 15 points. Faith Raymond had nine.
Marple Newtown 37, Conestoga 27 >> Lindsay Kane had a big night for the Tigers with 16 points and 10 steals. Haley Levy chipped in with eight points and Mackenzie Hilden posted five points and 11 rebounds.
Springfield 60, Upper Darby 42 >> The Cougars (14-2) drilled nine 3-pointers, two apiece by Alyssa Long, Jordan Postiglione, Rachel Conran and Belle Mastropietro. Jordan D’Ambrosio scored a team-high 15 points and Conran followed close behind with 14. Mastropietro netted six of her 12 points in the first quarter.
Jasmine Forrester poured in a game-high 24 points and connected on four treys for the Royals.
Garnet Valley 60, Penncrest 27 >> The unbeaten Jaguars (16-0, 11-0) cruised to another victory. Bri Borcky tallied 16 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Emily McAteer added 11 points. Jillian Nagy pitched in with seven points and three assists, and Madi McKee registered six points, eight boards, two assists and two steals.
Kylie Chelo led the Lions with eight points.
In nonleague action:
Great Valley 58, Chester 33 >> Monique Colbert was busy under the basket gobbling up 20 rebounds to go with her eight points, but that effort wasn’t enough for the Clippers. Quanshana Hagwood was Chester’s top point scorer with 13 points.
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