Merion Mercy too much for Chichester

UPPER CHICHESTER — Friday night marked the end of the road for two great Chichester girls basketball players.

Haley Sipple, a 1,000-point scorer, and fellow senior Logan Newman tried their best to extend the Eagles’ season and their scholastic careers, but No. 4 Chichester fell to fifth-seeded Merion Mercy Academy, 46-40, in a District One Class AAA quarterfinal round game.

“I don’t think we have any regrets,” said Newman, who scored a team-high 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. “We gave it our all, but they were just faster than us. They were a good team and we didn’t have what it took to beat them.”

Newman’s comments were not only classy, but fitting. The Eagles weren’t severely outplayed against the Golden Bears, but they simply didn’t have enough in the tank to take down the District One Class AAA runner-up.

“The loose balls, if they had their hands on them, they got them,” Chichester coach Mike Carrafa said. “We had a defensive rebound and (No.) 20 (Caroline Corzel) ripped it out of our hands a couple different times. They were aggressive and quicker to the ball than us.

“I thought we did a good job of getting the shots that we wanted, but we couldn’t score. Nothing was falling.”

Chichester struggled to a 13-for-43 performance from the field, including a 5-for-23 first-half effort. Sipple (12 points) had only two points on 1-of-8 shooting at halftime, while Newman was 1 of 7 from the floor and 6 of 8 at the free-throw line for eight points.

That’s not going to cut it in the District One playoffs.

While Merion Mercy actually performed worse than Chi at the whole shooting thing (11-for-53), the Golden Bears did their damage at the foul line, knocking down all 14 of their fourth-quarter points from the charity stripe. Corzel (14-for-16), who poured in a game-high 26 points, was a big reason why the Bears (14-11) enjoyed so much success.

“Twenty-four-for-30 from the foul line is pretty darn good for them,” Carrafa said. “We’re not going to come back there when they’re hitting their foul shots like that. They did a good job on us; they defend our players and took some of them out of the game. I thought coming in, their speed was going to hurt us and I think it did. They’re good. We saw them twice and I knew we had our hands full.”

Chi trailed by six points, 32-26, to begin the fourth quarter. And that score stayed the same for the first three minutes and change, as the Bears did a good job of taking the air out of the ball and holding for the best shot possible, which at times meant no shot at all. The snails-pace did the Eagles no good, but Chichester also had a handful of wasted possessions (re: turnovers, bad shot selection). That appeared to have changed once Maddie Thornton and Sipple hit a pair of 2s on consecutive possessions to cut the Merion Mercy lead to two points (32-30), but Chi never could tie or take the lead.

“We were really worried about Newman and Sipple, trying to shut them down. They’re two tough players who play hard-nosed,” Merion Mercy coach Rob Baxter said. “They’re a team that plays hard, but we knew that layoff might be a little bit of a problem for them. As much as we didn’t want to play that first-round game, it helped us out a little bit.”

Yes, Chichester went about two weeks without playing an actual, meaningful game. However, the Eagles tried to stay game-ready by scrimmaging Delco Christian.

Nobody on Chichester was making any excuses. The Eagles tipped their hat to the Golden Bears, who were the better team.

“I thought we had a good scrimmage the other day and the kids have been working non-stop at practice,” he said. “It would have been nice to play — two weeks is too long … but, I don’t think (the time off) hurt. They beat us.”

Baxter and Merion Mercy are eyeing a return trip to the District One championship game at Villanova. There is a perceived “chip on the shoulder,’ but Baxter pointed out how many of his players from last year’s squad are no longer around.

“We lost six kids from last year, so it’s a little bit of a different team,” Baxter said. “The kids that were there last year all got a little taste of that and I’m sure they’ll really like to get back to Villanova and give it another shot.”

Before they get there, the Golden Bears will have to go through No. 8 Radnor, which disposed of top-seeded Lower Moreland Friday night, 58-49.

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