EAST ROCKHILL >> It’s all about the mentality.
The Pennridge girls basketball team is more confident this season and it’s showing. While the Rams are 2-2 after defeating Quakertown 49-21 on Friday night, they’ve been in all four of their games and see plenty of reason why they can compete in the Suburban One League Continental this winter.
They understand every night in conference play is going to be a battle, but they also believe this is a different team than the one from the past few seasons.
“The mindset from last year to this year, we go into games and we’re way more confident,” Rams junior guard Sam Muredda said. “We tell ourselves we can win these games.”
Against the Panthers, the Rams let their defense do the work for them after a slow start offensively. Defense is something else they’ve put a lot of emphasis on, knowing they’re going to have to be really good on that end of the floor every night to do the things they want to and go where they want to this season.
Muredda’s quickness certainly set the tone, with the guard coming up with seven steals as Pennridge forced Quakertown into a barrage of turnovers that opened up the game in the second quarter. Guard Brooke Bachtle scored seven of the team’s 10 first quarter points, keeping them afloat until the defense got everyone else going.
Bachtle finished with nine, while Rose McCormick scored a team-high 12 points, netting nine in the second frame. One of the team’s five seniors, Bachtle has also seen a different vibe from her team this season.
“I think we know we can compete this year,” Bachtle said. “We have a better chance and our confidence is there. We have a good head going into every game. We just have to be able to finish, we’ve been in every game so far.”
Pennridge has missed the postseason the last two years, due in large part to it not winning games in the SOL Continental conference. While playing North Penn, Central Bucks South and Central Bucks West twice is a daunting task for any team, the Rams got into a sense that they couldn’t compete in any of their SOL games.
They won’t face an SOL Continental opponent until next Friday when they take on South, but with a trip to Palisades in between, this year’s Rams are eager to see how they stack up.
“They need to be more confident, they need to be sure of themselves and come into these games and play as hard as they can play,” Pennridge coach Mike Elton said. “We’re in a pretty difficult conference, we can get beat up at times but I’ve been trying to tell them you have some talent here and you just have to bring out that confidence.”
Muredda said the team is close and there’s a sense that the players all have each other covered. It’s a big part of their defensive identity, which Elton said is something they’ll have to do every night and when they’re pressuring the ball, they have confidence help will be there.
It may sound cliché, but Pennridge devotes a lot of practice time to “the basics,” as Bachtle put it, like communication and rebounding. Sure it sounds simple, but that’s also the type of things that good teams do well and things that add up over the course of a game.
“After every game we pick out things we need to work on and focus on the mistakes we made and how to fix them,” Bachtle said.
“We look at every game and do a pre-reflection and a post-reflection on the game,” Muredda said. “We talk about how we did with our pregame points and what we need to work on. We’re focused on keeping it one game at a time.”
With the game pretty much in hand early in the third quarter, Elton emptied out the bench with every player getting in for at least a couple minutes. When the first wave of subs came in, they just kept up the same energy and defensive gusto the starting group had, which their coach was very happy to see.
Sophomore Corinn Mart was a noticeable spark for the Rams, scoring six points with four rebounds and two assists off the bench. For the starters, seeing the reserves come in and play well is another form of confidence building, as those players might be needed in a close game later in the season.
“We’re happy to get them in and see what they can do,” Muredda said. “They’re going to need to learn how to do that for when our seniors leave.”
“We have to get them in these kind of games when we’re up to get more experience,” Bachtle said.
Muredda hoped the Rams’ start showed the rest of their conference that this is a different Pennridge team and they’re going to give whoever they’re playing a competitive game.
“We want to set a good example for the people coming up,” Bachtle said. “When we leave, we want them to bring the same mindset in with them.”
PENNRIDGE 49, QUAKERTOWN 21
QUAKERTOWN 6 3 6 6 – 21
PENNRIDGE 10 19 13 6 – 49
Quakertown: Abigail Dickson 0 2-2 2, Kimberly Best 1 0-0 2, Samantha Howard 2 0-0 5, Maggie Garlick 1 1-2 3, Emma Pizzullo 1 0-0 2, Ronnie Best 3 0-0 6, Hannah LaBourge 0 1-2 1. Totals: 8 4-7 21.
Pennridge: Rose McCormick 5 1-2 12, Sam Muredda 1 2-3 4, Brooke Bachtle 2 4-4 9, Gill Anderson 2 1-2 5, Emilee Cramer 1 2-2 4, Sophie Cweiber 0 1-2 1, Corrin Mart 3 0-0 6, Maddie Stolarski 2 0-0 4, Ashley Gorden 1 0-0 2. Nonscoring: Evelyn Loughery, Tatianna Machado, Gina Palatucci, Kiersten Moyer, Courtney McGurl, Jillian Coughlin. Totals: 16 11-15 49.