Goldbach, Garnet Valley hold off Haverford

HAVERFORD — Garnet Valley’s Macy Goldbach dribbled the ball at the top of the key in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Central League showdown with Haverford. She glanced at the scoreboard.

1:42, 1:41, 1:40 …

The Jaguars clinged to a four-point lead. In some ways they controlled their fate, but the host Fords had no intention of letting the Jags chew time off the clock. Earlier, Garnet Valley coach Joe Woods had taken a timeout after Rosie O’Halloran’s baseline layup pulled Haverford within two possessions. The plan of attack was to be smart with the ball and exploit any weaknesses if Haverford played up on defense.

Goldbach found one at the perfect time. The player guarding her, center Amanda Battista, was out of her comfort zone. Goldbach made one move and drove to the basket for an easy two. It was the dagger.

Goldbach took matters into her hands and clinched her team’s 44-37 victory.

“There was too much time left in the game to just hold the ball,’ said Goldbach, the game’s MVP. She finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, two blocked shots and several other big plays on both sides of the floor that wouldn’t show up on the scoresheet.

“I knew that I had to take it and luckily it worked out,’ she added. “I was surprised they weren’t more aggressive. I thought they would be pressing us, to try to give us some anxiety. But they gave us a fit and they’re a good team.’

Haverford (12-4, 8-3) made things interesting after Garnet Valley (15-1, 11-0) burst out of the locker room at halftime on a 12-2 run to take a commanding 35-20 advantage. The Ireland sisters, Jordan and Maddie, combined for 10 points during that stretch.

“I know my girl was face-guarding me and Mini’s (Maddie’s) girl was face-guarding her, but whoever was on Macy didn’t do the same to her,’ Jordan Ireland said. “So, we were like, ‘˜All right, Macy, you bring the ball up.’ So when they did move on her, Macy just blew right past the player guarding her. … Macy is fast and was able to get right around her. That was a big play for us.’

Garnet Valley hasn’t lost to a Central League opponent since Feb. 2013. The target is always on their back, but night after night, the Jags prove there is no one better in the Central League.

“I feel like we’re definitely getting ready for playoffs,’ Goldbach said. “I think in every game, we’ll have someone different step up for us, the same as last year. We’re on the same track as last year.’

Haverford has come fairly close in back-to-back seasons of dispatching GV. Last year the Fords, with many of the same players, gave the Jaguars a fight for four quarters and this time around wasn’t any different.

“They came out in the third quarter and just broke the game open, which set us back. You always run the risk of them doing that to us,’ Haverford coach Bridget DiCave said. “They are a very, very good team. It’s a challenge to play the best team and we just wanted to step up to the challenge. You obviously feel like your kids can win any game, and we feel as though we could have won that game. But you’re not going to win making mistakes against that team. The turnovers were unacceptable and in the first half we gave them eight offensive rebounds.’

Jordan Ireland led all scorers with 16 points and Maddie chipped in with 12. The big three of the Irelands and Goldbach scored 42 of the team’s 44 points. The Jags shot 41.8 percent (18-of-43) from the floor.

“Everyone knows we’re undefeated so far and every team is trying to get where we are,’ Jordan Ireland said. “I think it’s good that we know that because it just makes us work harder to stay in that position.’

Haverford, which committed 18 turnovers and shot just 33.3 percent (12-of-36) from the floor, will have another shot to take down the Jags in early February. Ashley Murphy came off the bench to provide a boost, nailing a trio of 3-pointers. She led all Haverford players with 10 points. Rosie O’Halloran followed with nine and point guard Mollie Reynolds added five points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

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