Phillips nets 11 as Shanahan remains unbeaten, wins tournament opener

NEWTOWN SQUARE — Grace Phillips was aware Bishop Shanahan was struggling to score points throughout its holiday tournament opener against Norristown.

Phillips hoped to provide a spark to the offense. In a defensive battle, any way the Eagles could get the upper hand was needed.

“The biggest part for us was just trying to get a lead,’ Phillips said. “Having a lead made us more comfortable, especially since we had a lot of turnovers early. We were a lot less panicky once we took the lead for good.’

Phillips was a huge part of Shanahan’s second half rally. She had five points in the fourth quarter to lead the Eagles with 11 as Bishop Shanahan remained unbeaten with a 33-28 victory over Norristown in the opening round of the Marple Newtown Tournament at Marple Newtown High School Friday afternoon.

The Eagles (8-0) will face Marple Newtown, a 60-33 winner over Phoenixville, in the tournament’s championship game today at 3:30 p.m. Norristown (2-4) will face Phoenixville in the consolation game at noon.

Trailing 18-17 at halftime, Shanahan went the first 3:12 of the third quarter without scoring a bucket. In came Phillips to get the Eagles back in the game. Phillips drove the lane, converted the layup with contact and hit the foul shot to tie the game 20-20 with 4:48 left in the quarter.

Rachel Parker followed with a putback layup on Shanahan’s next possession to give the Eagles a 22-20 lead.

From that point, Shanahan did not trail. The Eagles did not make many adjustments coming out of halftime, but instead decided to pick up the pace after a sluggish first half.

“We tried to get the intensity up,’ Phillips said. “After all the early turnovers, we needed to come together as a team and regroup.’

One of the players that kept the Eagles from an early deficit was Parker. Coming into the game averging just 2.0 points, Parker stepped up with five for Shanahan to go with seven rebounds.

“Coach (Fran) Burbidge just wanted us to keep up the energy and work hard,’ Parker said. “He was right, we needed to come out stronger.’

The Eagles tipped off just after 12 p.m., a far cry before their usual 7 p.m. start time on most game days. However, Shanahan insisted the early start didn’t reflect their slow start to the game.

“The time didn’t matter,’ Parker said. “We should have just came out strong from the beginning.’

“We were just not focused when we came out,’ Phillips said. “Once we were comfortable with the switching up of the defenses in the second half, we were able to get more looks.’

Ciara Forde, scoreless for the first 23 minutes, hit a layup to give the Eagles a 24-22 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Tatiana Dewalt hit a baseline jumper to tie the game at 24-24 to start the fourth. On Shanahan’s next possession, Forde gave the Eagles the lead for good with a jumper at the foul line for a 26-24 lead with 7:12 remaining.

Phillips followed with a 3-pointer from the left baseline to put Shanahan up 29-24 with 6:10 left. In a defensive battle, her shot put a dagger in Norristown’s chances at a comeback.

Phillips sealed the victory with a drive and a layup as the Eagles led 32-28 with 1:59 to go.

Forde finished with just four points, but had four steals and six rebounds. Devon Adams had nine points in the win.

Patty Fortescue led Norristown with a game-high 14 points.

Shanahan has won eight straight to open the season and is the last unbeaten team in the Ches-Mont. The Eagles are slowly becoming one of the upper echelon teams in District 1 and are starting to surface the potential of how good they can be.

“We’re becoming a program that almost expects to win,’ Phillips said. “We’re confident with each other. It feels good.’

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