Council Rock North girls basketball fueled by opening loss to CB South (GALLERY)

NEWTOWN – In his ballad about Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, the late singer-songwriter Jim Croce offered the warning, “Don’t tug on Superman’s cape”. Any opponent facing a Lou Palkovics-coached team should heed the same advice.

Going into this season, the Council Rock North girls basketball team faced a classic building year. Five seniors had gone the cap and gown route, leaving sophomore Becca Margolis and junior Emily Mackin as the only returners with any appreciable playing time on their resume.

With Mackin recovering from summer knee surgery, the burden of leadership fell into the capable hands of Margolis. Last year, the 5’ 5” point guard averaged 7.5 points, 3.1 steals and 2.2 assists a game. She was the only freshman named to the All-Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference team.

Becca certainly recognizes the important role she has to assume as she helps indoctrinate the new and talented freshmen additions to the squad. “I just see it as me having to step up as a sophomore since I’m still getting use to the game. It’s not an excuse to say we are young. I need to help the freshmen who are trying to learn the plays and get used to playing on the varsity level.”


Yet one proven ace does not guarantee drawing a royal flush hand. The Rock would have to experience some growing pains as they attempted to build the on-court chemistry necessary to regain their usual prominent place in SOL National. Last year, the Indians recorded an 11-3 league mark, good enough for a third-place finish behind Neshaminy and Abington.

The first step of the reconstruction process came with a season-opening clash with a predominantly senior-oriented Central Bucks South. Not surprisingly, the Indians flashed all the first game jitters. The smooth flowing style of play that marks a Lou Palkovics-coached squad was somewhat overshadowed by errant passes, missed rebounds and untimely fouls. South took a 14-point lead into halftime and then exploded for 23 points in the third quarter

Becca, who fouled out of the game knew the 66-35 loss was not truly reflective of the Rock’s potential. “It was the first real game and the team had a lot of adrenalin pumping. We were all pretty nervous. That got to us but we learned from that. Coach said we can’t have that as an excuse. We can’t have ourselves identified as that.”

The game presented the youthful Indian squad with several important lessons. “We needed to come to the ball when we were passing. We needed to rebound a lot more. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds. We were committing stupid fouls. We needed to play smarter than that, including me. I made bad fouls and that was because our adrenalin was pumping.”

In some ways, a youthful show of excessive exuberance proved the Rock’s undoing. They almost over-hustled themselves into a large deficit. “We were killing ourselves on the court with everybody running around trying to get back and stop Central Bucks from getting a breakaway.”

Two days of practice and reflection produced a much more mature and synchronized look as Rock took on William Tennent in the second game of the season. Showing a total team balance, the Indians jumped out to a 20-4 first-quarter lead and expanded it to 40-15 by halftime. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Rock had recorded their first league win by a 59-26 margin.

Becca sensed that frustration over their first game performance fueled the Indians’ uprising. “We were pissed off about the first game outcome. We took it out on Tennent and played our game. We used our frustration to create a better team rhythm against Tennent.”

In all, eleven girls contributed points to the CR North cause, a team effort that earned praise from their veteran coach. “He (Lou Palkovics) said he was really proud that he could play with all the girls who were on the bench. He could put them all on the court and know they could perform.”

The Rock did not have long to savor its big victory. The following day, they faced perennial Catholic Academy league power, Mount Saint Joseph. Under coach John Miller, the Mounties have recorded nine straight 25-plus win seasons. They returned eight players from last year’s team that made it all the way to the PIAA Class AAAA state championship quarterfinals.

The Rock realized the challenge they faced. “That was a really important game for us. We knew their potential and knew they had a really well-rounded team and could really shoot. We came out with confidence and a feeling we could take the game.”

The Indians’ rapid learning curve had them well prepared to play Rock style ball. In a game that saw numerous lead changes, the Indians fought the Mounties to a 43-43 tie at the end of regulation play. It took a last-second trey by Mount Saint Joseph for the opponent to capture a hard fought 50-47 overtime win.

Becca, who led all scorers with 21 points, saw the game as a real positive sign. “After the game, we were all confident and happy with ourselves. Even though we didn’t win, we did all we could. Coach was happy with how we played as a team. He was proud of how everyone, whether on the bench or in the game, was cheering and supporting each other.”

Central Bucks South may have been the one to tug on the Indians’ cape but the Rock’s future opponents just might be the ones to pay the price. Coach Palkovics’ youthful charges have quickly gained a winning pride in confidence in their potential.

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