WEST CHESTER >> There were a variety of heroes in undefeated West Chester Henderson’s 56-46 District 1 Class 5A quarterfinal win against Radnor Friday night.
With the victory the Warriors advanced to the district finals and clinched a PIAA tournament berth. Both are firsts for the girls basketball team.
Henderson used its size to outrebound Radnor, 42-23, led by Grace Ferguson (nine rebounds), Erin Torrance (seven) and Erin Thompson (seven).
When the game got close (37-36) late in the third quarter, Thompson led a 10-0 Henderson run, recovering a Radnor turnover and driving the length of the court for a basket, then capping the run with a 3-pointer.
And in the final quarter, the Warriors managed the clock with a deliberate offense that featured plenty of passing and some nifty dribbling by guards Maddie DePrisco and Thompson.
Leading the way for the Warriors throughout the night was Thompson, who finished with 23 points, 10 of them in the fourth quarter.
“Radnor has a very athletic team, but we trusted ourselves tonight,” said Thompson. “We’ve trained our minds and bodies for games like this. All of our hard work and dedication is paying off. Our coach [Greta Neff] pushes us every day, and we love her for it.”
With the victory, top-seeded Henderson (26-0) will face No. 5 Mount St. Joseph’s in the district semfinal Tuesday evening at Harriton. Mount edged fourth-seeded Springfield, 41-40, Friday in their quarterfinal.
Radnor (15-9) will face Springfield in the District 1 5A 5th-6th playback bracket, battling for a spot in states. Only six teams from District 1 earn a trip to the state tourney.
“We kept grinding tonight, and I’m proud of my girls — they’re fighters and good athletes,” said Radnor head coach Mark Jordan. “We’re a young team, we’ll return eight of our nine top players next year, and I told the team after this game that this was a great experience, playing in front of a packed gym like this. We didn’t have our ‘A’ game tonight — you don’t always have your ‘A’ game — and give Henderson credit. You have to play a complete game against them for all 32 minutes — they’re fast, they’re tall, they shoot the ball well — they have no weaknesses.”
In the first quarter, Henderson pulled out to a 13-6 lead, mostly on scores underneath by Ferguson (who had eight points in the opening stanza).
The Warriors built on that lead early in the second quarter, and after a couple of timely treys by DePrisco, led 23-8.
Radnor’s offense then began to heat up, and after a couple of three-pointers by junior Audrey Rosenblum and sophomore Julia Rigolizzo, the Raiders were within striking distance of the Warriors. After senior Sydney D’Entremont worked her way inside for a couple of scores, Radnor cut Henderson’s lead to 28-20.
Thompson hit a short field goal in the waning seconds of the first half to send the Warriors into the locker room with a 30-20 halftime lead.
Radnor rallied again in the third peirod. In the first four minutes after halftime, Rosenblum, Rigolizzo, freshman Brienne Williams and sophomore
Ellie Mueller each hit 3s to cut the Warriors’ lead to 37-36, its smallest margin of the night.
After a couple of free throws by Ferguson and Adrienne Smith gave the Warriors a little breathing room (39-36), Thompson made a key play with 2:27 left in the quarter, recovering a Radnor turnover underneath and driving the length of the court while getting fouled. Her free throw made the score 42-36, and the Warriors maintained a 6-10 point margin the rest of the game.
“When I [recovered the turnover], I saw that there was a lane open on the left side, and Abbey [Shea] was on the right side,” said Thompson of her end-to-end drive. “I just decided to take it.”
Neff noted, “Erin [Thompson] has made some big baskets for us this season, as well as some clutch free throws.”
In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Shea intercepted a Radnor pass, was fouled, and converted both of her free throws to give the Warriors a 44-36 lead. Twenty-six seconds later, Thompson hit a trey from the left side to make it 47-36.
In the fourth quarter, Henderson played a more deliberate pace, using a lot of passing while patiently waiting for a good shot opportunity to open open up. In one sequence late in the fourth quarter, Henderson controlled the ball for two full minutes.
“We’ve got two good guards in Maddie [DePrisco] and Erin [Thompson], so we could play at that pace,” said Neff. “Radnor’s an athletic team, and they play hard, and we knew they would make a run at us. But we weathered the storm. … We’re having a lot of fun [being undefeated]. These girls are fun to coach.”
Radnor scoring was led by Mueller, with 13 points. The Raiders must defeat fourth seed Springfield in the 5th-6th playback bracket Tuesday to keep its hopes alive for a state tourney berth.
“We have [at least] four more quarters to play this season, and next Tuesday will be our 25th game of the season, it’s a great thing for our team,” said Jordan.