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Cardinal O'Hara

Hendrixson, Gardler lead O’Hara back to the Palestra

PHILADELPHIA >> Cardinal O’Hara’s Maura Hendrixson laughed off a comment from coach Linus McGinty Tuesday night.

“Ask her how many points she scored the first time (against Wood),” McGinty joked.

The Lions struggled from the field en route to an overtime loss to the Vikings on Jan. 19 and Hendrixson failed to make a shot.

“I got hurt, but that wasn’t until towards the end,” she said.

This time, Hendrixson, an All-Delco senior guard bound for Drexel, played an amazing all-around game to help the Lions defeat Archbishop Wood, 39-35, in a Catholic League semifinal matchup.

The Lions booked their trip to the Palestra where they will defend their PCL title next Monday against Neumann-Goretti.

Some of McGinty’s players, including All-Delco senior guard Kenzie Gardler, were sporting custom-made T-shirts with the slogan, “In Linus We Trust.”

“We got them made for his 800th (win),” Gardler said.

Hendrixson scored eight of her team-high 13 points — Gardler also had 13 points — in the opening quarter. Gardler hit a floater in the waning seconds of the second quarter to give O’Hara (19-4) a 16-14 lead at halftime.

The Lions spent the first two minutes of the third quarter with the ball, dribbling and playing keep-away from the Vikings (17-7). Gardler, falling to the floor, banked a 3-pointer to put O’Hara up by seven. In the fourth quarter Hendrixson hit two free throws as O’Hara went ahead by 11 with four minutes to go.

Safe lead, right? Not against Wood.

“They’re a team that, if we’re up in the fourth quarter, we knew they would come back,” said Hendrixson, who added game highs in rebounds (eight) and steals (three). “They have so many great players.”

One, in particular, goes by the name of Katie May. The do-everything forward carried the Vikings in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of her game-high 18 points.

“Our game plan was to get up on them right away because they have a really good offense and they know how to hold the ball and control it,” Gardler said. “Also, the last time, No. 4 (Kaitlyn Orihel) killed us so we switched Molly (Paolino) on her and I guarded Katie May.”

Gardler kept May quiet, for the most part, until the fourth quarter when Wood had to rally.

“Basically, it’s all-help defense,” Gardler said. “In the beginning of the game, we really doubled-down on her and we all came together and rotation. It all worked out. It was about team defense and that’s how we got the job done.”

Lindsay Tretter sank a 3-pointer to get Wood within three points with less than 30 seconds to play, but Siobhan Boylan and Hendrixson hit their foul shots to seal the win. O’Hara scored all of its points from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

The Lions will enter Monday’s championship on an 11-game winning streak.

“It’s all we wanted since the beginning of the year was to get back there our senior year,” Gardler said. “It’s the best feeling ever and we want that feeling back from last year.”

O’Hara downed Wood in the PCL final last year. Now they’ll have to slay another monster in Neumann-Goretti.

“It’s the best feeling, knowing that it’s our senior year and we get to go back (to the Palestra) one more time,” Hendrixson added. “It’s what we’ve all been playing for.”

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