Practice makes perfect for Upper Dublin in District 1-AAAA 1st round win over Pennridge

UPPER DUBLIN — Sometimes as a coach you just feel it. There are those rare moments when you come into a game and you just think your team is ready. That was the case this week for Morgan Funsten as his Upper Dublin Cardinals prepared to face the Pennridge Rams in the first round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs.

“Yesterday at practice our girls just had a look to the point where I called my dad and said ‘ Am I supposed to feel this comfortable before a big game like this.” Funsten said.

His feelings turned out to be right, as his team shot lights out and ran away with a 65-38 victory to advance to the second round of districts.

“I was so comfortable coming into the game with our mindset as a team that I was nervous because I was like ‘ I don’t think I’m supposed to be this comfortable with where we’re at,’ said Funsten “Our week ofpractice this week was just really good and like I said you’re always nervous but my girls, they were ready.’

Right from the start you could feel it. A 19-point first quarter performance followed by a 20-point second quarter gave the Cardinals a 39-24 point lead going into the break.

As a whole, the team shot 62 percent for the half, but the real story of the first was Jossie Barrett, who went into the break with 17 points after going 5 of 6 from beyond the arc.

“Yesterday at practice she had a different look,’ said Funsten. “I told her yesterday ‘ man, I wish we we’re playing today’ and she carried that over but yesterday’s practice is really where it started.’

Barrett finished the game with 21 points and on any other night would have been the talk of the town following this one. That is, if her teammate didn’t burst out for a career night.

Julie Cross, one of only two seniors in the starting lineup for the Cardinals, finished with a career high 30 points and 9 rebounds to go along with it. She shot an astonishing 12-of-15 from the field and was on another planet all night. Simply put she couldn’t miss, a fact hercoach has taken notice of the past few games.

“I can confirm this later with you but I think she may be 10-14 in the last three games shooting threes,’ said Funsten “You know she’s our leader off the court as well. We go as she goes and she’s going right now.’

Cross echoed her coach’s thoughts that the team could just feel something was right during their week of preparation.

“I personally didn’t think our warmup was that good, I was nervous coming in, but our practices this week have been amazing, we were so focused so I knew the team was going to be ready,’ she said. “I didn’t ever think we weren’t going to be ready for this game. He (Funsten) set up a great week of preparation and practice and we couldn’t have had a better week leading up to this.’

While the offense was on fire all afternoon, Funsten said the defensive end of the ball was really where the team wanted to focus coming in.

“We know they can score a lot of points,’ he said “Our number one thing was to defend them. They give up points also but we thought the key tonight was stopping them and keeping them under 40, that was one of our goals and we accomplished that.’

Pennridge star and Lycoming College commit Shelby Schoonover had herself a nice game, finishing with a team-high 19 points but it simply wasn’t enough. Only four Rams players managed to find the bottom of the net and they looked flustered at times by the swarming defense of the Cardinals.

Her team came out firing in the second half and never quit, but the Cardinals were just too hot and there was nothing the Rams could do about it.

This was a statement victory for the Cardinals as they sent a message to the rest of the district that they’re a real threat to make some noise in the playoffs, especially if they keep getting games like this from Cross and Barrett.

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