North Penn shakes off slow start, routs CB East

TOWAMENCIN >> It did not seem Tuesday night was going to end with the North Penn girls basketball team rolling to a 30-point victory.

After five-plus minutes against visiting Central Bucks East, it looked more likely the Maidens were going to have trouble even getting to 30. That was because with 2:41 left in the first quarter and North Penn’s Mikaela Giuliani stepping to the foul line, the matchup was even at just two points apiece.

“At the beginning, just unforced turnovers — both teams — I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s like watching paint dry,’” Maidens coach Maggie deMarteleire said.

Giuliani broke the deadlock with a free throw and North Penn began to find some offensive rhythm at the end of the quarter. East, however, could not buy a bucket, finishing with one field goal and five points in the first half. North Penn had a 27-point edge at the break and cruised to a 55-25 Suburban One League Continental Conference victory.

“We were a little shaky, both of us, in the first quarter. But pulled it together at the end of the first and into the second half,” Maidens junior Jess Huber said.

North Penn (5-2, 2-0 conference) used a 17-1 run to take a 19-3 lead in the second quarter before Brianna Talbot made two free throws to end an East scoring drought that lasted 4:35. But those were the Patriots (3-1, 1-1) final points of the half, with the Maidens holding a 32-5 halftime advantage after Huber scored in transition off a Sam Carangi steal.

“We just wanted to pick up our defense, mostly and we believe our defense brings our offense together,” Huber said. “So, we just wanted to focus on our defense more than anything.”

Huber led North Penn’s balanced night of scoring with a game-high 14 points while Mia Melchior came off the bench to collect 10 points. Irisa Ye and Bri Hewlett both chipped in nine points.

“I think anyone on this team can score,” Huber said. “And really if we all just have good games, the scoring would be balanced. And Mikaela really contributed with a lot of rebounds.”

The win was the second of at least 30 points by the Maidens this season, having defeated Downingtown West 48-16 last Tuesday.

“Three out of the last four games, we’ve played outstanding,” deMarteleire said. “So, I just hope we can keep it up.”

North Penn lost to 19 to Perkiomen Valley in its season opener, but responded with four straight double-digits victories before falling to Washington, D.C.’s St. John’s College 66-44 Sunday in the She Got Game Classic.

“They have three Division I recruits, like when we walked into the gym (Notre Dame coach) Muffet McGraw was there, Coquese Washington from Penn State, head coach of Illinois, head coach of Buffalo and a few other D-I coaches,” deMarteleire said. “They were real deal. And we really started off poorly, we down 20-5 at the end of the first, we actually cut it to 39-30 in the third, but they just have so many weapons, and my kids they just ran out of gas.

“But it was a good effort and I think that tournament playing that level of competition, has given the kids confidence.”

Talbot had eight points to pace CB East, which appeared to shake off its shooting struggles at the start of the third after a Talbot jumper and a Kyra Scaliti three made it 32-10. North Penn, however, responded with 15 straight points to grab its largest lead at 47-20 when Giuliani scored off a Ye assist.

Three straight East buckets made it 47-16 but Huber scored on a drive in the final seconds of the quarter to send North Penn to the fourth up 33.

“Our offensive rebounding was really good, I thought that the kids were very unselfish. I was really pleased,” deMarteleire said.

After Giuliani’s free throw gave the Maidens the lead for good at 2:41 in the first quarter, Ye made it 5-2 with a basket while Melchior drove for two then drained a three-pointer for a 10-2 lead.

Bridget Birkhead ended the run with a foul shot at 1:03, but a Hewlett putback and free throw put North Penn up 10 at the end of the first eight minutes.

A Huber steal a basket had the Maidens up 19-3. Talbot collected East’s only two points of the second quarter from the line at 4:28 before Ye and Huber knocked down back-to-back threes for a 25-5 advantage.

Hewlett scored inside on an inbounds, Melchior converted a three-point play with another two from Huber capping the 15-0 run to end the half.

After CB East cut the margin to 22 early in the third, Hewlett and Ye both went 2-for-2 at the foul line, Huber connected on a three and Giuliani converted a three-point play for a 42-10 lead at 3:49. Two more Giuliani buckets — with a Jess McKenzie free throw in between — had the Maidens up 37.

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