Energized Hendrixson, O’Hara run past Carroll

MARPLE — Cardinal O’Hara had eight days off to prepare for Friday’s date with Archbishop Carroll.

The down time didn’t affect the Lions one bit.

Led by freshman Maura Hendrixson’s 14 points, O’Hara rolled to a 60-43 triumph over the Patriots, who had won seven of their previous eight contests.

The No. 1 team in Delaware County made another statement. Yes, they are a young bunch. Sure, there are going to be growing pains along the way. So what? The Lions are that good, and they proved it again.

“We just go out there and think that we have nothing to lose,’ said Hendrixson, who drilled three 3-pointers and shot a cool 5-of-7 from the field. “We’re the youngest team in the Catholic League and we just want to show that we can play with anyone.’

The respite was just what the Lions needed. Three days after they stumbled in the second half against the Neumann-Goretti, considered by USA Today to be the top high school girls team in the nation, they enjoyed an easy win at West Catholic. However, it hardly got them prepared for Archbishop Wood, which was next on the schedule. But inclement weather Wednesday caused that game’s postponement.

So, a few extra days of practice could never hurt. The Lions stormed out Friday and never gave the Patriots a chance.

“Our transition game,’ sophomore guard Hannah Nihill said. “That’s what we’re really good with.’

And when everything is clicking at once, the Lions are fun to watch.

“Thank you,’ Nihill said.

The Lions shot 57.5 percent (19-of-33) from the field, forced 12 turnovers, and held a 28-11 advantage at halftime. Hendrixson had the hot hand in the opening half, but the Lions (13-1) got by the Patriots (11-6) by sharing the ball. Nihill added 11 points and a team-high five assists, Mary Sheehan (seven rebounds, five assists) tossed in 10 on 5-of-6 shooting, and Kenzie Gardler finished with nine.

“It was good to learn from our mistakes from the Neumann game,’ Nihill said. “We had good practices and you can and tell that we were working well together.’

After a listless first half the Patriots shot their way back into striking distance, but never could trim their deficit to single digits. Jess Carney came off the bench to drill a pair of 3-pointers while senior guard Julia Gantz (12 points, two assists, two steals) was plagued with foul trouble. Senior guard Keara McNulty had a solid game with 11 points and three field goals from beyond the arc.

Carroll, though, just couldn’t match O’Hara’s firepower.

“We watched tape on them and we knew their strong point really was the 3-ball,’ Sheehan said. “We knew if we could stop them from there we’d have a pretty good chance at shutting them down defensively and we were able to run the floor a little bit and make things happen with our transition game.’

Gantz scored on a nice backdoor feed from McNulty and the Patriots, in general, executed much better in the second half as opposed to a sloppily-played first half. But every time they tried to build momentum, the Lions pulled it away. Gardler’s three-point play, five seconds after McNulty’s third trey of the night, gave O’Hara a 16-point cushion with three minutes to play.

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