Bryn Mawr – With a challenging non-league schedule combined with a relatively young team the Shipley girls’ basketball coaching staff believed their team would come of age at a key moment during the 2015-16 campaign.
Tuesday, the coaching staff received their wish when the Gators built an early 10-point cushion only to see the visiting Phoenix climb within two at 37-35 late in the fourth quarter before freshman Lauren Ross sealed the win for the home team sinking four free throws at the end to help preserve a 43-39 win.
“The free throws by Lauren were huge,” said coach Kevin Costello. “Tonight was probably the closest situation we have had to a playoff game this year and since we will be playing the top tier teams in the Friend’s Schools League the rest of the way this win says a lot.”
“With my father being a coach I know that foul shots can win or lose you a game, “ said Ross, whose father Monte is head coach of the University of Delaware men’s basketball team. “I just took my time because I wanted to make sure I knocked them down.”
After Shipley built an early 12-2 lead, Friends’ Central spent the rest of the afternoon trying to fight their way back. On five different occasions they drew within two but each time Shipley answered the bell.
With time running down, Vaughn drew her squad within 41-39 but after missing the free throw that would have completed the conventional three-point play, Ross grabbed the rebound for Shipley and was quickly fouled.
As she had done just minutes before, Ross toed the line and knocked down both shots to provide the final margin. With the win Shipley moved to 6-0 in league play with Friends’ Central falling to 5-1.
Entering the campaign with a brief but rich history of success since joining the Friends’ Schools League, Costello knew this year might be the biggest challenge the school has faced with so many new faces on the team.
Although they might not have fared as they hoped early on, the lessons learned were valuable ones for a team that has shown continued progress.
“When you play a challenging non-league schedule and you have a young team you may lose a couple more games than you would want but with each game you know the younger players gain valuable experience,” Costello said. “I believe those games early on helped us win a game like tonight that got tight in the fourth quarter. Our seniors led the way doing the little things tonight and our freshmen made some key baskets late to help us come away with a win.”
“I knew tonight was going to be a challenge,” said Anna Camden, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. “Mikayla is a talented player and being just a freshman it gave me a chance to see what I was made of.”
“I have seen it the last five games with Anna,” said Costello, referring to her growth. “She has played more consistent and she knows where she needs to be on the floor. The game seemed to move quickly for her early in the season and now she knows how to slow her self down and put herself in the right position.”
As the season starts winding down, it seems like Shipley is starting to click at the right time.
“It’s a lot of fun for a coach when the rewards are visual like it was today,” said Costello. “Friends’ Central has been playing very well all year and for us to come away with the win is big for our confidence.”