READING >> Berks Catholic and Fleetwood have built a pretty good girls’ basketball rivalry over the past few seasons in Berks League Section 2, featuring a handful of court battles with bragging rights implications in play.
Friday night was not one of those encounters.
Never trailing, the host Saints built a solid lead during the first half, then put the issue to rest in the third quarter, posting a 50-29 win over the Tigers and with it, take over first place in Berks 2 in a somewhat surprisingly lopsided manner.
“That’s a nice rivalry that we’ve created with them over the last couple of years,” BC head coach Bob Birmingham replied, when asked about staying focused during an unexpected blowout. “We’ve been playing each other for the division title the last four, five years; in counties and in districts. There’s a good competition there and I thought our kids got after it pretty well tonight.”
Both squads came into the contest unbeaten in the section, with Fleetwood (7-5, 4-1) leading by a half-game: four league wins to BC’s three. It was evident fairly early on that the Saints would be the ones departing the floor with the Section 2 lead.
Featuring solid defense anchored by 6-foot-1 center Dejah Terrell and helped along by more than a smattering of poor ball-handling from the Tigers, BC (10-2, 4-0) scored the first eight points of the game and built a 22-6 halftime lead while not allowing consecutive baskets at the other end.
The Saints expanded on that edge by sandblasting Terrell through the paint after the break. A subdued first half from the senior centerpiece was anything but during the third quarter — Terrell scored eight consecutive points to spur BC on to a 36-16 lead through three, effectively ending the contest after 24 minutes.
“I have to give tribute to my team,” Terrell said of her third quarter outburst, which landed her leading scorer honors with 21 points. “They know where I like to be, they know how I like to position myself and my coach told me to attack and basket and dominate. So that’s what I did.”
Birmingham explained why the court opened up a bit after a tight but sloppy opening 16 minutes.
“They were trying to pinch on Dejah. Now, we didn’t shoot particularly well tonight, but we have some guards who can shoot,” Birmingham said. “Once we got that lead, they had to come out and guard a little more and that opened up things for Dejah.”
Fleetwood was not sharp with possession, especially during the first half — the Tigers turned the ball over 15 times during that span. With three minutes and small change left on the second period clock, Fleetwood’s turnovers more than tripled its points scored, 14 to 4. The team ended up with 21 miscues.
Short-circuited opportunities in part due to those ball control issues, Fleetwood ace Gabrielle Downs was held to just seven points by the Saints, though that output still led her squad.
“For at least 24, 25 minutes, we played very good defense,” Birmingham said. “We helped, we talked. … We have some kids who can defend, and that helps.”
BC’s Abby Gaffney contributed 15 mostly-perimeter points, a key ingredient in helping her Saints unclog the floor after halftime and get Terrell the operating space to ice the affair.
Berks Catholic 50, Fleetwood 29
Fleetwood – 2 4 10 13 — 29
Berks Catholic – 10 12 14 14 — 50
Cressman 0 0-2 0, Earnest 1 2-2 4, Downs 3 1-2 7, Virgo 3 0-0 6, Schlegel 2 3-3 7, Knoll 1 0-1 2, Kaskey 1 0-0 3, Oxenreider 0 0-0 0, Levan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 6-10 29.
3-point field goals: 1 (Kaskey)
Terrell 8 5-6 21, Gaffney 6 1-2 15, M Leninger 2 0-0 4, S Leninger 1 2-3 4, Duncan 1 0-0 2, Schreiber 1 0-0 2, Gonzalez 1 0-0 2, Holt 0 0-0 0, Emkey 0 0-0 0, Kirwan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 8-11 50.
3-point field goals: 2 (Gaffney 2)