CONCORD — The musical stylings of Meek Mill blasted in the basement of Garnet Valley High School an hour or so before tip off.
Prior to the biggest game of the season with Springfield, a battle of Central League and Delco unbeatens, the Jags sought a little motivation from Philly’s favorite rapper.
“This is probably the most hyped we’ve ever been for a game,” senior forward Emily McAteer said. “We’ve been talking about it forever. Before the game we were downstairs jamming out to some music, so that got us even more hyped. We were ready.”
The Jags had revenge on their minds for last season’s loss to Springfield in the Central League championship game. While the Jags made a run to the second round of the PIAA Class 6A playoffs, they never quite got over the defeat to the Cougars.
“We wanted to get them back,” guard Jillian Nagy said.
McAteer, the All-Delco forward who earlier this season became the program’s all-time leading scorer, did most of her damage in the fourth quarter. She scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the final eight minutes of regulation to propel Garnet Valley to a 51-42 victory. With the win, the Jags (10-0, 6-0) sit atop of the Central League standings by their lonesome. Springfield (10-1, 6-1) suffered its first conference loss since last February.
“We knew we had to control the tempo of game. If not, it would be pretty much on their side,” McAteer said. “We had to take advantage of the height we have and that was pretty much our goal.”
If one statistic tells the story of Friday’s clash of Delco’s top girls basketball teams, look no further than the rebounding category. The Jags won the battle on the boards, 38-13. McAteer pulled down seven boards and fellow big Madi McKee led all players with 10 Senior forward and Drexel signee Brianne Borcky paired five rebounds with 17 points.
The Jags played man-to-man defense most of the night, which hindered the Cougars’ ability to run their offense.
“All year we’ve been playing man. At the beginning of the year, we went to Coach (Joe) Woods and told him that we think we can play man this year and be really good at it,” McAteer said. “We feel we have the all-around players who can handle it.”
Springfield handled the defensive pressure early on, shooting 6-for-11 from the floor in the first quarter. Conran drained a 3-pointer late to give the Cougars a 17-10 advantage. But the Jaguars adjusted in the second quarter and outscored the Cougars, 10-2.
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McAteer hit a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds on the clock to put the Jags ahead 20-19 at the break. Borcky kicked off the second half with a trey, but the Cougars stayed alive.
Conran nailed a 10-footer to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, trimming GV’s lead to 32-20. Early in the fourth quarter, Jordan D’Ambrosio made two foul shots to tie the game at 32-all, but McAteer responded with a basket and the Jags never looked back. McAteer was 8-for-10 at the charity stripe in the final quarter. Collectively, the Jags made 18 of 21 free-throw attempts, including a 13 of 16 effort in the fourth quarter.
“We came in here hoping a ‘W’ and we didn’t get it done,” said Springfield junior guard Alyssa Long, who had four points and four assists. “When you put three 6-footers in the lane, like they have, it’s hard to your thing. Our game is a lot of dribble and penetration, kick, get to the rim, get to the foul line. A lot of things were taken out because of their size and ball pressure. Credit to them. They took away what we did well.”
Alexa Abbonizio and Rachel Conran scored 11 points apiece for the Cougars, who shot 8-for-25 from the field after the first quarter. Senior forwards D’Ambrosio and Belle Mastropietro were limited to eight points each.
Long and the Cougars anticipate they will see the Jaguars next month in the Central League playoffs.
“We saw it all over social media and we saw it here tonight. They won like it was their championship,” Long said. “We know it’s a regular season game and when we see them next time, it will mean something. We just hope that, next time, the final score is reversed.”
In other Central League action:
Radnor 43, Conestoga 16 >> Ellie Mueller paced the Raiders (8-3, 4-3) with 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Radnor outscored the host Pioneers, 24-9 in the first half.
Holly Holtsberg paired four points with seven rebounds in the win.
Harriton 45, Ridley 38 >> The host Green Raiders (5-7, 3-4) pulled within three points at the end of the third quarter, but couldn’t get closer. Shannen Hinchey tallied a team-high 13 points and Morgan Chapman chipped in with eight.
Marple Newtown 55, Lower Merion 47 >> Haley Levy scored a career-high 16 points, and Mackenzie Hilden added a career-best 12 for the Tigers. Lindsay Kane added 10 points for Marple Newtown (4-7, 2-4).
In the Catholic League:
Archbishop Carroll 57, Neumann-Goretti 45 >> With stifling defense and clutch foul shooting, Patriots turned a two-point deficit at the end of the third quarter into a double digit victory. Erin Sweeney poured in 24 points and Grace O’Neill tossed in 15 for the Patriots (7-5, 4-1).
Harlem Jennings and Mary DeSimone each added eight points in the win, while Karli Dougherty had a solid floor game with five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
In the Inter-Ac League:
Notre Dame 59, Penn Charter 43 >> Maggie Pina’s scored 27 points and Mandy McGurk finished with 16 for the Irish, who used an 18-4 run in the second quarter to run away from the Quakers.
In nonleague action:
Sacred Heart 40, Calvary Christian 18 >> Kyra Quigley registered a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds and added six blocks to lead the Lions to an easy win. Kayleigh Doyle and Liz Franz contributed eight points apiece.
Collegium Charter 32, Sun Valley 30 >> The Vanguards fell short of getting their second win of the season. Maya Morris led all scorers with 15 points.