Delco Christian holds off Christopher Dock in District 1-A semis

CHELTENHAM >> Christopher Dock’s defense almost did it.

The Pioneers battled back from a 16-point halftime deficit, closing to within three in the final minutes, but Delaware County Christian battled through the Dock pressure and held on for a 42-37 victory in a District One Class A Semifinal Game at Cheltenham High School Wednesday night.

“In the first half, we were just throwing up shots, nothing was going in, and we knew if we wanted to keep up with these guys, we had to start picking our heads up, talking to each other and stop getting down on ourselves,” Dock senior guard Lanae Hunsberger said. “We came up short but we played our best in the second half. I’m really proud of our girls. We’ve come so far since the beginning of the season.”

Dock, returning most of its roster next season, closed out at 16-10. Second-seeded Delco advances to the district final for the fifth time in seven years and will take on the winner of the Phil-Mont Christian and Jenkintown matchup Saturday at 10 a.m. at Counck Rock South.

When Delco lost leading scorer Siani McNeil in the third quarter due to cramping, the Knights struggled against Dock’s trapping defense, as Delco was held to just one field goal in the entire fourth quarter.

But once the Knights were in the double bonus, they made just enough free throws to hold off surging Dock and advance to the final.

After a runner by Hunsberger sliced the deficit to three, Emma Ellsworth made one of two free throws to increase the Delco lead to 39-35 with 50 seconds to play.
Delco came up with a defensive stop and again, Ellsworth made one of two foul shots to increase the margin to five.

The No. 6 Pioneers, trying to push the ball up court in a hurry, turned it over on their next possession, and Delco’s Claudia Norton would put the game away with a breakaway layup.

By then, both teams were playing without key pieces, as Dock lost Nicole Ford, one of its key rebounders, in the first half.

Carsyn McCloskey, making it difficult for Delco to set up its half-court offense, spearheaded Dock’s defensive effort.

“We just picked up our intensity in the second half. We didn’t want to lose,” Pioneer coach Al Grenfell said. “We made a great game of it and I told the girls they showed a lot of heart.”

Early on, back-to-back baskets by McNeil (13 points), the second coming off a steal, provided Delco a 12-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Moments later, McNeil came up with a defensive rebound then set up Taylor Mingle (13 points) for two, as the Knights began to stretch their lead, up 16-9 at the end of one.
There were many contributors in a dominant second quarter for Delco.

Shirley Piotrowski, the Knights’ tallest player at 6-foot-2, showed her range by stepping out and hitting a mid-range jumper, as Delco’s lead extended to double digits.

A baseline jumper by Mingle put Delco further in front and then Mingle finished off a fast break as the Knights’ defense began to stifle Dock at the other end, holding the Pioneers to five points in the second quarter.

Claudia Norton weaved her way through the Pioneer defense and layed it in for two and then Emma Ellsworth buried a three, capping the first half for Delco in commanding fashion, the Knights up 30-14 at the break.

Dock, led by its seniors – Hunsberger and Olivia Longacre each had nine, nearly came all the way back in the second half.

“We just hung in there,” Delco coach Mark Weaver said. “Dock’s a good team and I expected them to continue to fight. We made just enough plays to come out on top.”

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