Academy Park welcomes Woodton’s long-awaited return

SHARON HILL >> Academy Park’s Mahya Woodton was so anxious to get back on the court after injuring her ankle in a preseason practice that she continued shooting around and running when she should have been resting.

Even when the sophomore guard’s foot was in a boot, she couldn’t help herself. Woodton badly wanted to be back on the floor with her teammates.

“It was frustrating,” she said. “When I was hurt, I was still coming to practice even though I wasn’t supposed to.  I

should have taken it easy.”

Woodton was sidelined for the first six weeks of the Knights’ season. She returned last week as the Knights fell by

Academy Park's Mahya Woodton, center, avoids Interboro's Lexi Tansey, left, and Amber Huddell en rotue to two points Tuesday night. Woodton, a sophomore guard who recently returned from a season-long injury, netted 10 points in the Knights' 50-36 victory. (ROBERT GURECKI - DAILY TIMES)
Academy Park’s Mahya Woodton, center, avoids Interboro’s Lexi Tansey, left, and Amber Huddell en route to the hoop. Woodton, a sophomore guard who recently returned from a season-long injury, finished with points in the Knights’ 50-36 victory.

five points against the top team in the Del Val League, Penn Wood, and scored 14 points.

“I’m just back,” Woodton said with a big smile after Tuesday night’s 50-36 win over Interboro. She scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and made two steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter. “It’s getting easier, I’m getting used to everything now.”

Woodton’s return to the starting lineup has been a breath of fresh air for the Knights (7-8). Woodton fits in nicely in AP’s three-guard set that includes leading scorer Raven-Monet Kemper and Shantalay Hightower.

“We got more speed and more oomph,” Kemper said.  “We got a lot more  energy with Mahya on the court. It really pulled us together.”

Woodton is a quiet, unassuming kid who lets her play do the talking. But she is everything the Knights were missing. She brings energy, speed and court savviness.

“I guess it’s energy more than anything,” said Woodton, who had a pair of 30-point games and led the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game as a freshman.

The Knights received steady production Tuesday from Kemper, who netted a game-high 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor. Kemper pulled down six rebounds for the Knights, who led the entire way after Interboro scored the game’s first basket.

“In the beginning we were up … but then they came back and we started slacking,” Kemper said. “We maybe thought it was going to be easy, but we stuck it out and played good defense.”

ROBERT GURECKI- - DIGITIAL FIRST MEDIA. Academy Park's Trea-Sure Ketter (23) drives ahead of the her Interboro rival to the basket.

Academy Park’s Trea-Sure Ketter fights for two points in the Knights’ win over Interboro Tuesday night.

One of the Knights’ biggest concerns this season has been their inability to finish games. When Interboro applied defensive pressure and pulled within seven points with less than two minutes to go, the Knights closed. Hightower drove to the basket for an and-1 play to seal the deal.

“Before we didn’t know how to play with a lead, but today we were able to play with a lead and played together as a team,” Kemper said. “We don’t do that a lot, but I’m happy we were able to do that today.”

Senior center Trea-sure Ketter dominated the glass. She was limited to six points, but hauled in a game-high 15 boards. Hightower scored nine of 13 points in the fourth quarter.

The Bucs (6-10) had their opportunities to make it a game. As leading scorer Gina McNamee (10 points, two steals) was held in check, sophomore forward Marta Walewski worked hard for her 13 points and seven rebounds. Walewski has been  one of coach Jody Boon Jr.’s most improved players.

“She’s been our best players the last couple of games. She works extremely hard,” Boon Jr. said. “Right now she is limited basketball skill-wise, but she works really, really hard. I couldn’t be any happier with what she’s been doing. She’s started to come around. She’s strong with the ball and is doing a lot of good things for us.”

Together, the Bucs have played much better than their overall record would indicate. They began the season with five straight defeats and losses in six of their first seven games.

“We cut it to seven in the fourth quarter, but we couldn’t hit our shots,” he said. “That’s been the same all year. If we’re able to knock down a couple more shots, we’re right there. Shooting has been our issue the entire season, especially when Gina’s not knocking down shots. She makes us go.”

In the Inter-Ac League:

Episcopal Academy 48, Springside Chestnut Hill 20 >> Lily Kuntz poured in eight of her team-high 13 points in the first quarter for the Churchwomen (9-5, 3-3), who won their fifth straight decision. Luca Mamula netted 12 points.

EA knocked down seven 3-pointers with Kuntz hitting three and Reilly Wright adding a pair.

Notre Dame 50, Baldwin 34 >> Caitlyn Clark guided the Irish (12-3, 6-1) to victory with 12 points four assists and four steals, while Casey Walsh added 11 points. Katie Mayock notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go with three blocks and three steals.

In the Bicentennial League:

Delco Christian 58, Bristol 26 >> Sophomore forward Shirley Piotrowski tied her career high with 23 points as the Knights (11-5) cruised. Siani McNeil posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

In nonleague action:

Penn Wood 64, Christiana 18 >> The Patriots jumped all over visiting Christiana and took a 41-3 lead into halftime. Gabrielle Hairston had a game-high 16 points and hit three of her four 3-point shots in the second quarter.

Carle Andrews tossed in 15 points and All-Delco Dahnye Redd chipped in 11 for the Patriots.

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