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Kelly the glue that keeps Haverford together

Erin Kelly, pictured in a Central League playoff game last season, has been an effective backcourt leader for the Fords.

HAVERFORD — Erin Kelly provides a valuable, albeit underrated role on the Haverford High girls team.

In some ways, she is the glue that keeps the Fords together. A scrappy point guard who is known for her defensive prowess and sound decision-making at the point, in most games Kelly is the Fords’ captain on the court.

One of nine seniors honored before Thursday night’s 60-38 victory over Upper Darby, Kelly gave one of her textbook performances. She did plenty of the little things and did them very well. 

Kelly, who will play basketball at Immaculata next season, collected four points, two rebounds, two assists and a game-high four steals.

“I’ve been doing that for a really long time. I guess it’s just what I’m known for as a basketball player,” Kelly said. “I try to give as much assistance as I can, scoring when I can, and getting defensive stops. Whatever I can do to help the team.”

Kelly is one of Haverford’s five senior starters, all of whom are at least two-year starters, who have provided the Fords with many wins over the years.

“We’ve been playing together since about the fourth grade when we were at Highland Park,” Kelly said. “It’s just been a really special bond and I think our bond has grown since then.”

Senior shooting guard Erin Doherty banked five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points and seven rebounds.. Senior power forwards Lindsey Lane and Sara Walsh controlled the paint. Lane finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal. Walsh chipped in with 11 points and eight boards. Annalena O’Reilly, Kelly’s backcourt mate, added two points, three assists and a steal.

“It’s great to know that, with the five of us, we have every piece of the puzzle,” Lane said. “I feel like when you have nine seniors that you’ve been playing with since fourth or fifth grade, it really shows that you have so much team chemistry. It’s great having everyone together because you keep those friendships all throughout elementary school, middle school and high school. It shows on the court.”

Kelly’s lone field goal came at the end of the third quarter to give Haverford a comfortable 14-point advantage.The Fords (15-5 overall, 10-3 Central League) led by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.

“When Lindsey or Sara set a screen on my defender, I know where they are going to be when they roll,” Kelly said. “Or when Annalena goes back door, I know where to hit her with the pass so she can finish. We just have that connection.”

With the regular season winding down, senior night gave the Fords’ veteran players the chance to reflect and enjoy the spotlight. After the pregame pomp and circumstance, the Fords went right to work and played a solid 32 minutes of basketball against the rival Royals.

“You still have the nerves and everything, you have senior night and you want to enjoy that time, but you always know you’ve got to get your head in the game and go out and play,” said Lane, who will continue her career at Chestnut Hill College. Walsh is headed to Scranton for basketball, Doherty is going to Catholic for hoops and O’Reilly will play soccer at Drexel.

Upper Darby (11-8, 6-8) pulled within three points of Haverford in the second quarter, but the Fords closed the first half on a 9-2 run and never looked back. The Fords shot just 34 percent from the field (17-for-50), but made up for it at the free-throw line, where they went 20-for-25.

The Fords wrap up the regular season next week against Garnet Valley, which is undefeated in the Central League. A win by Haverford would allow a fourth team to enter the conference playoffs next weekend. And who knows, perhaps Haverford will see Garnet Valley for a third time this season in the league finals.

“I think with the nine seniors we have, our experience together, i think that’s going to help a lot in playoffs,” Kelly said. “We started last year as juniors, too, so knowing that we’ve been in the Central League playoffs before and we’ve been in districts. We know what to expect and we know we’ll be there to win in.

“We are in it to win it. We’re very hungry for it and we’ve been talking about it since the (overtime) loss at Springfield (Jan. 19). I feel we’re very motivated.”

Jasmine Forrester tallied 15 points and four assists to pace the Royals. Gabby Liberio added nine points.

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