Flores, Shanahan ignite Unionville second half rally to clinch Ches-Mont Final Four berth

EAST MARLBOROUGH — Micayla Flores, Lexi Shanahan and the Unionville seniors heard head coach Fred Ellzy’s message at halftime, loud and clear.

With the Indians playing arguably their worst first half of the season with a Ches-Mont Final Four berth on the line, the seniors fed off Ellzy’s words coming out of the locker room.

“Coach told us they (Great Valley) wanted it more and we were all offended by that,’ Flores said with a laugh. “We are competitors and we’re here to win. We haven’t been to the Final Four in a few years. It was on the line.’

Flores and Shanahan led the way with 14 of Unionville’s 24 second-half points as the Indians scored 12 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarter to rally to a 37-30 win over Great Valley in a Ches-Mont League American Division game Tuesday night.

Unionville clinched a spot in the Ches-Mont Final Four with the win as the Indians locked up the second playoff spot in the American Division. The Indians will play Bishop Shanahan, the National Division champions, at 3 p.m. on Saturday at West Chester East High School.

Great Valley was eliminated from Ches-Mont playoff contention with the loss. The Patriots needed to win their final two league games in order to clinch the second playoff spot in the division.

As for that halftime message Ellzy set to the Unionville seniors, he’s glad they responded to the challenge.

“This is a very bright and very smart group of girls,’ Ellzy said. “Sometimes you just need a little bit of motivation and sometimes it just takes a nudge. That’s definitely one comment I’ve said over and over again to make them realize this is an important game. They were strong from then on out.’

Trailing 17-13 to start the third quarter, Flores opened the second half with a layup to make it 17-15. Two possessions later, Shanahan tied the game with a jumper at 17-17.

Great Valley had one last run in them to hold on to the lead. Christina Porreca scored four straight points to put the Patriots up 21-17 with 3:47 to go in the third.

The Patriots didn’t score until 4:20 left in the fourth quarter. Unionville went on a 12-0 run during that stretch to take over the game.

Maddie Shanahan hit a jumper to tie the game 21-21. On the Indians’ next possession, Sam Pancoast converted a layup to give Unionville the lead at 23-21 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.

Once the Indians got the lead, they wouldn’t relinguish it. With five seniors on the roster, Lexi Shanahan felt that was the difference knowing a Final Four berth was on the line.

“Having an older team definitely is an advantage,’ Shanahan said. “We work well together having a good group leading us to success. We cleaned up the turnovers, rebounded the ball and finished as mych as we could, just like coach told us.’

Maddie Shanahan put the Indians in control of the fourth quarter with back-to-back jumpeers to put Unionville up 29-21 with 4:59 left. Great Valley was forced to foul from that point, but the Indians went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth to seal the win and the Ches-Mont Final Four berth.

The younger Shanahan, a sophomore, used the leadership from the five seniors to regain her shooting touch in the second half after going scoreless in the first half.

“I was just trying to drive, but the shots weren’t falling. From there, I just kept shooting outside,’ Shanahan said. “The seniors help tremendously in leading the team with all their experience. We rely on them a lot. They help us believe in ourselves.’

Unionville had to rally from the opening tip as Great Valley began the game on a 7-0 run. After the Indians responded from a sluggish start with six unanswered points, Ashlyn Smith capped a 5-0 run by the Patriots to put them up 13-8 with 4:14 left in the second quarter.

Sadie Buzan hit a 3-pointer to put Great Valley up 17-13 at halftime. From there, the game belonged to Unionville.

Buzan and Porreca led the Patriots with nine points in the loss.

Flores led Unionville with 12 points while Lexi Shanahan had eight and Maddie Shanahan added six.

The Indians have experienced a remarkable turnaround this season under Ellzy as they have become one of the top teams in the Ches-Mont. Unionville will get to showcase its talent once again in the Ches-Mont Final Four Saturday.

Flores and Lexi Shanahan can’t wait to play with the best teams on the league’s biggest stage.

“It’s feels awesome making the Final Four,’ Shanahan said. “As a freshman, I was on varsity when we made it this far. It’s really nice to finish my high school career on the same place I started.’

“We’ve had kind of a lull since my freshman year,’ Flores said. “Saturday is where it begins again for the program. We’re excited to play in this. With a bunch of seniors on the team, we’re ready to go. This is so exciting.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply