CONCORD — There’s no doubt that Madi McKee would make a very good college basketball player.
Blessed with size and athleticism, the Garnet Valley senior forward will play lacrosse at La Salle University beginning in the spring of 2020. Lacrosse is her main sport.
By her admission, though, McKee has pondered the idea of extending her hoops career. It’s not a crazy thought.
“I’ve been thinking about it recently,” she said with a smile.
McKee’s teammates have encouraged her not to give up basketball. And it’s hard to blame them. Time and again, McKee has performed extremely well for coach Joe Woods’ basketball team the last two seasons.
“I tell her that all the time,” Loyola-bound senior forward Emily McAteer said. “She’s going to La Salle, but I’ve told her, ‘You could totally make the La Salle basketball team if you tried.’ It’s what I tell her all the time, just because of her skills and she is so athletic. She can be such a good player.”
Unfortunately, the basketball and lacrosse seasons overlap in college, which makes playing both sports impossible. And if these next few weeks are it for McKee’s career on the hardwood, she is going out with a bang. In a critical Central League contest Thursday night, McKee was the saving grace for the Jags. She cleaned up a slew of missed shots and made six baskets for a team-high 13 points in a 44-40 overtime victory over Haverford on Thursday.
With the victory, Garnet Valley (21-1, 16-0) completed an undefeated run in the Central League and earned a bye to the conference final Monday night at Harriton. Meanwhile, Haverford clinched the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and will play second-seeded Springfield in the semifinals at 1 o’clock Saturday afternoon at Marple Newtown High School. It’s not entirely impossible the Jags will see the Fords for a third time this season.
“The last time we played Haverford, we knew we didn’t play our best so we definitely wanted to come out with the same intensity as we did against Springfield because we know we played a lot better in that game,” said McKee, who gobbled up 19 rebounds and had a pair of steals. “In the beginning, we had a couple of little rough patches but we were able to win the game. It definitely felt like a playoff game.”
Garnet Valley and Haverford both had trouble establishing any sort of rhythm on the offensive end in the first half. The teams combined to shoot a putrid 10-for-49 and, well, it wasn’t pretty. While McKee was doing her part, Haverford, by and large, was the aggressor. The Fords got a handful of offensive boards to extend drives, while the Jags struggled to hit from high percentage areas. Haverford senior guard Erin Doherty banked a 3-pointer to put Haverford ahead 13-8 late in the second quarter. It was the Fords’ largest lead of the night.
“Sometimes, the opposing team will come out with a little bit of a different gameplan than what we prepared for,” McKee said. ”It takes some time to get into the rhythm of things, but I think that since we’ve all been playing with each other for quite some time, we know how to pick up for each other. We all have trust in each other and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
In the teams’ first meeting, Haverford led by double digits at the start of the fourth quarter, at home, but Garnet Valley rallied. This time the game was
Morgan Falcone made a basket to give Garnet a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Sara Walsh drilled a 3-pointer to pull Haverford within two. Later in the period, Doherty nailed her third trey of the night to get within one.
Doherty, who led all scorers with 20 points, was understandably frustrated at the result but has no reason to believe the Fords cannot beat Garnet Valley, if they have the opportunity to play them again. First, Haverford will look to avenge an overtime loss to Springfield in Saturday’s semifinal.
“Losing to them the last few times really allows us to play with a chip on our shoulder and stay motivated,” Doherty said. “I feel we’re definitely prepared to give our best on Saturday against Springfield.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Jillian Nagy made a layup to make it 33-30 Garnet Valley, but Haverford tied the game out of a timeout. Annalena O’Reilly broke free of her defender and went to the basket to even things up at 33-all, forcing overtime.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” said Nagy, a senior guard, who scored five of her eight points in the fourth period. “They wanted revenge from last game because they were winning the whole game and we came back to win.. We had to come out strong, but our shots weren’t falling in the first half. At halftime, we knew we had to keep driving … because shooting 3s isn’t helping. We kept going to the basket and that helped us score more (in the second half).
GV was 12-for-28 from the floor in the second half and overtime.
In the extra session, Brianne Borcky hit underneath the backboard, then McKee scored the next three points to give Garnet a 38-33 advantage. GV went 7-for-10 at the foul line in OT to seal the victory.
GV fell to Springfield in last year’s Central League final, ending an incredible run of four consecutive championships. At this point the Jags don’t care who they face Monday, they just want their title back.
“Honestly, whoever comes out that day and plays the best basketball is going to win the game,” McKee said. “As long as we come out with the same intensity tonight, I think it will be a very good game.”
Elsewhere in the Central League:
Springfield 56, Penncrest 24 >> Belle Mastropietro scored 19 points and Alexa Abbonizio tossed in 12 as the Cougars (20-2, 15-1) spoiled the Lions’ senior night.
Kylie Chelo, a senior and three-year captain, led the way for Penncrest with 18 points in the team’s season finale.
Radnor 52, Strath Haven 44 >> Ellie Mueller tallied 21 points, 14 rebounds and four assists to help the Raiders (17-5, 11-5) to a fourth-place finish. Alisha Lewis scored 16 of her team-high 18 points in the second half for the Panthers.
Upper Darby 57, Conestoga 34 >> Jasmine Forrester paced the Royals (13-9, 7-9) with 23 points and eight rebounds. Gabby Liberio added 11 points and Aubrey Ennis chipped in with 10.
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