Redd keys second-half surge to title for Penn Wood

SHARON HILL — Penn Wood was at risk of sharing the Del Val League championship with Academy Park Thursday night.

For the first 16 minutes, the Patriots didn’t resemble the team coach Monique Boykins has molded into a true Delco powerhouse the last two seasons. The up-tempo team that runs the floor so well seemed sluggish and lax.

The Patriots went into halftime trailing by four points.

Boykins was stuck in traffic and didn’t get to the game until midway through the first quarter. Maybe that had something to do with her team’s slow start.

“We didn’t go through our normal preparation,’ Boykins said.

The Knights, a nice surprise this season with double-digit wins after finishing last in the Del Val a year ago, played with a sense of urgency.

When the third quarter rolled around, though, Penn Wood’s starting five of Dahnye Redd, Gabrielle Hairston, Joy Morton, Simone Walker and Nadege Durand turned the light switch on. Actually, they blew a fuse. Redd scored 19 of her game-high 23 points in the second half and Hairston dropped in 17 points to lead Penn Wood to a 69-43 victory and the Del Val crown for the second straight season.

The old tale of two halves line doesn’t even do it justice. The Patriots outscored the Knights, 47-17, in the final 16 minutes of regulation.

Like night and day.

“We knew we had to win Del Val, that we just had to go out there and do it,’ said Hairston, who hit four of her six field goals from beyond the 3-point arc. “We knew we couldn’t let them come in and win or let them have a chance. We had to start playing like we know how and we did.’

The Patriots (13-6 overall, 8-0 league) were in no mood to share, either.

“I don’t know what it was, we just didn’t come out energized,’ Redd said of her team’s first-half woes. The Patriots shot 7-of-26 and committed eight turnovers, but a vastly improved team showed up after the break. “They were doing what they had to do to try and beat us. They took advantage of us not playing our game and they got buckets off of it. Their crowd was hyping them up, too, and they had the momentum going.’

Alyssa Williams nailed a pair of treys late in the second quarter to give the Knights (12-9, 6-2) a big spark and the biggest lead of the game (26-22). Trea-Sure Ketter, AP’s 6-3 junior center, had seven rebounds and two blocked shots, along with six points, in the first eight minutes. Elisha Hernandez scored 10 of team-high 17 points in the first two stanzas. Alas, the Knights’ inexperience reared its ugly head in the second half.

“We’re a young team and that plays a part in it,’ coach Amy Straup said. “We’re getting there, though.’

Redd, one of the county’s most prolific scorers at nearly 20 points per game, put on a show after halftime as the Patriots stormed out of the locker room with a 16-0 burst. Redd ran the floor and dominated the boards as she scored 14 points in her team’s 24-7 third-quarter run.

It took a while, but it was just another day on the court for Redd and Co. The Patriots applied a full-court press, overwhelmed the Knights and assumed control of a game they should have been winning all along.

“That always makes a difference, when we get our steals and start to get our buckets in transition. Everything starts to flow,’ said Redd, who added nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Morton and Walker, both guards, weren’t as productive as Redd and Hairston on the offensive end, but got the job done with their strong all-around performances. Morton had nine points and posted game highs in rebounds (15) and steals (six), while Walker (eight points) contributed four steals and four assists.

Boykins was not outraged by her team’s first-half performance (“I stayed calm,’ she said) but had a few words of encouragement to wake her team from its first-half doldrums.

“They knew the Del Val was on the line and that’s it. Other than that, they worked hard. You have to let them know. When you’re winning and you know that you’re good and you have a lot of confidence, sometimes you get stuck in a habit and play a little too relaxed. I made sure they picked it up.’

As for AP, Ketter was a monster in the middle, especially in the first half when she netted eight of her 10 points. Ketter finished with 19 rebounds and five blocked shots, exactly the sort of effort Straup was hoping for.

“She’s been getting a little bit better and she’s been boxing out really well,’ Straup said. “Tonight it all came together at the right time.’

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