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Slow start dooms Plymouth Whitemarsh against Neshaminy in PIAA-6A 2nd round

NORTHAMPTON >> The Plymouth Whitemarsh girls basketball team could not have imagined a worse start to their PIAA Class 6A state playoff game against Neshaminy Tuesday night.

The Colonials made just two field goals and trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half.

But they didn’t go down easy. They rallied back to within two points in the final minute of the game, but ultimately came up short, 43-37, in the second round of states at Council Rock High School South.

The Redskins advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Souderton Friday night at a site and time to be determined.

Neshaminy switched up its defense after losing to PW, 47-44, in the District 1 playbacks less than two weeks ago. The Redskins switched from man to zone.

The result was seven first-half points for PW and a 17-point Neshaminy lead at intermission.

“Their zone defense was good,” PW coach Dan Dougherty said. “They really extended well, but some of it was bad shot selection. The kids were driving and pulling up instead of trying to get to the basket. We missed some wide open shots there in the first half.”

The second half was a different story on both ends of the floor. The Colonials scored 30 points after halftime and forced eight turnovers — compared to one in the first 16 minutes.

“I’m so proud of my team,” PW’s Taylor O’Brien said. “These are my girls. We’ve been playing together for so long and I’m just so proud of what we did as a team together this year and last year. All of us together, we played our hearts out. We really overachieved this year and we wanted to do as best we could for our senior year and go as far as we possibly could and play with as much heart as we possibly could so we could be proud of what we did at the end of our careers.”

O’Brien and Ali Diamond each had six points in the third quarter. They got as close as six points and entered the fourth quarter trailing by eight, 30-22.

O’Brien had eight points in the fourth and Lauren Fortescue had five to help get within two, 37-35, with 47 seconds remaining.

“We were just playing hard, playing with heart,” O’Brien said of the second half. “In the beginning we were playing off and we just weren’t giving it 100 percent. At the end we really wanted it and there just wasn’t enough time left to make the comeback that we wanted.”

Neshaminy didn’t miss its free throws. Kristin Curley and Brooke Mullin went a combined 6-for-6 in the final 38 seconds to help the Redskins maintain a multi-possession lead and hold on for the win.

“I just had to stay calm,” Mullin, who went 4-for-4, said. “It’s repetition. We shoot every day in practice. I just had to stay calm and knock them down.”

The Redskins scored the first six points of the game and led, 9-3, after the first quarter thanks to seven points from Mullin.

They stayed hot in the second, opening with a 13-0 run to takes their biggest lead of the game at 22-3.

Mullin scored a game-high 20 points and Curley and Olivia Scotti each had eight.

“I’m so proud of my team,” PW’s Taylor O’Brien said. “These are my girls. We’ve been playing together for so long and I’m just so proud of what we did as a team together this year and last year. All of us together, we played our hearts out. We really overachieved this year and we wanted to do as best we could for our senior year and go as far as we possibly could and play with as much heart as we possibly could so we could be proud of what we did at the end of our careers.”

O’Brien led PW with 17 points. Diamond added six and Fortescue and Sydney Kesselman each had five.

The loss brings an end to Plymouth Whitemarsh’s season.

“This team overachieved,” Dougherty said. “When you start 5-4, 5-5, 5-5, 5-8, 5-9, to make it this far and to beat the teams we beat, back-to-back championships, runs in states and districts. It’s a special group of kids and they’ve won 50 games over the last two years. It’s been a special run. It’s always sad when things end, but to come back that way in the second half is a positive way to walk out on your career.”

Neshaminy 43, Plymouth Whitemarsh 37
Neshaminy 9 15 6 13 — 43
Plymouth Whitemarsh 3 4 15 15 — 37
N: Mullin 6 8-10 20, Harvey 1 0-0 3, Curley 2 2-2 8, Tantala 0 0-0 0, Kowalick 2 0-0 4, Scotti 4 0-1 8. Total 15 10-13 43.
PW: O’Brien 6 2-4 17, Fortescue 1 2-2 5, Schweitzer 0 0-0 0, Diamond 2 0-0 6, Zygmunt 1 0-0 2, McTamney 0 2-2 2, Kesselman 2 0-0 5. Total 12 6-8 37.
Three-point goals: Harvey, Curley 2. PW: O’Brien 3, Fortescue, Diamond 2, Kesselman.

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