Cheltenham tops Penn Wood in District 1-AAAA 1st round

CHELTENHAM — They were number one in your program and the number one option in Thursday’s first round game of the District 1-AAAA girls basketball playoffs. Cheltenham sophomore Ashley Jones and Penn Wood junior Dahnye Redd traded baskets early and often.

The 13th-seeded Panthers pushed the ball up the court and the 20th-seeded Patriots struggled to set up zone defense in time to slow done Jones on the dribble drive.

While there was some unfamiliarity with the Suburban One League American Conference side, Penn Wood knew it was going to need to stop the Panthers’ 1,000 point scorer to have a prayer. With 31 points from Jones, Cheltenham pulled away for a 71-56 win, advancing to next Wednesday, when it has a second-round date with either No. 4 Garnet Valley or No. 29 Upper Merion.

“Their number one, Redd is one of those kids I watch and say she does not get the ball enough,’ Panthers coach Brendan Dolan said. “One thing I learned from (former Cheltenham) coach (Bob) Schaefer is your best players get the ball in their hands.’

While Redd recorded the first four field goals for the Patriots, they eventually found scoring options in several places. Redd finished with 18 points, while four others made multiple field goals in the season ending loss. The Patriots finished the season 14-7.

“They present problems for some people, Dolan said. “Something will work against them for a while, but eventually they will catch up and you have to switch it up. I think we were pretty effective in doing that.’

The Patriots stayed with the box-and-one defense, one defender always with two eyes on Jones, but whether she was running the base line or attacking the basket, the Panthers (18-5) top playmakers found ways to create chances without the ball in her hands. Then when the ball found a way back, she capitalized.

“They played box-and-one, just like every other team, so it’s normal,’ Jones said. “I need to keep working on my jumper.’

In the second half, the two standouts went one-on-one, Redd taking her turn trying to guard Jones. Jones, who dished off more often in the second half, especially to Amarri Truehart, who scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half. On the other end, it was up to Nashira Brown and the rest of the Panthers’ post players to stop Redd’s attempt to rally her team.

“We are more balanced than it appears,’ Dolan said. “Sometimes the stats are heavy to Ashley. She makes a lot of shots, but her and Amarri both make their free throws. That is what makes us dangerous.’

Possibly the biggest separator came at foul line. While The Panthers shot 31-of-41, the Patriots only making eight of their 17 free throws attempts. They say making foul shots is crucial in the postseason. That, and having a number one option like Ashley Jones.

“Our free throw shooting makes us a good team,’ Dolan said. “It is very comforting at the end of the game. I just need to make them foul us and I like our chances.’

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