Fortescue leads Plymouth Whitemarsh past Upper Dublin

WHITEMARSH >> Lauren Fortescue has only worn a Plymouth Whitemarsh uniform for five games, but she’s looking a better fit in it each night.

The guard came up big on Friday night and as a result, PW did something that hasn’t happened a whole lot the past four seasons. Fortescue scored a game-high 16 as the Colonials topped Upper Dublin 50-37 at Colonial Elementary School.

“That was awesome,” Fortescue said. “All we talked about all week was execution and wanting it more than the other team and that was something I thought we did well.”

It was just UD’s third loss in Suburban One League American Conference play since the 2011-12 season and the second loss PW was responsible for.

Fortescue, a junior, played her first two seasons at Norristown. She moved in with her grandmother and transferred to PW prior to the school year, adding another solid player to a rotation that didn’t graduate any players.

“She gives an added dimension to the team that with her, Ali Diamond and Taylor (O’Brien) on the floor at the same time, it’s very difficult to press us,” PW coach Dan Dougherty said. “That’s three kids who can break the press. Lauren was just outstanding tonight, she played the whole game, which is difficult to do and she wanted this one bad.”

PW’s defense caused the Cardinals a lot of problems in the first half, and really the whole game. Upper Dublin had trouble getting ball down low, either by passing it in or one of the guards driving. That issue was magnified when freshman Jackie Vargas was saddled on the bench, as she was most of the second quarter after picking up her third foul.

The Colonials seemed to benefit after their forward, Lauren Coscia picked up her second foul. While it took a good rebounder off the floor, it let Sarah Putsch enter and give PW another aggressive scrambler on the defensive end. Of course, Vargas not being out there also played a big part in that.

“To disrupt them defensively, we just had to play tough in our defense and do all we could to get to the ball,” O’Brien said. “Sarah did a good job with reaching out and getting to the passes that were there for her, which was really helpful.”

O’Brien found Ali Diamond in the left corner for a 3-pointer with 4:24 remaining in the second, giving PW a 19-12 lead and a lob pass to O’Brien off an inbound for a layup put the Colonials ahead 21-14 at the break. The Diamond 3-pointer was especially big because it opened up a seven-point lead and kind of forced Upper Dublin out of its comfort zone on offense.

“Every single play where we made a shot, I was just really confident,” Fortescue said. “I had more energy at that point.”

Fortescue scored nine of her 16 after halftime and had three assists in the fourth quarter, all of them passes to Coscia for layups after breaking a press. The guard said she’s always looking for Coscia in those settings and it’s one of her favorite plays to make on the floor.

In the third, Fortescue hit a long 3-pointer that put PW up nine with 5:20 left. It was one of those she’s still new to the team moments, the junior saying she was talking with assistant coach TJ DeLucia about the fact she can shoot from outside.

“I was so scared after I released that but once it went in, I was so excited,” Fortescue said.

Vargas being in foul trouble all night hurt UD, and PW’s guards did a good job with their assignments.

“They run their offense so well for an easy look to Josie Barrett and Ali Diamond was just glued to her all night,” Dougherty said. “Lauren Fortescue was glued to Maggie Weglos. Laurel Suchsland didn’t score tonight, but she played Nicole Kaiser so well, she played the entire game and did what we needed her to do.”

The one player PW had trouble slowing down was Demi Balasa, who put in 14 points to lead UD, also adding six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Vargas did manage 10 points and eight rebounds in her time but Barrett was held to three points and Weglos did not score.

“We had to know they were going to know all of our plays and we were going to know all of theirs,” O’Brien said. “We had to really push through and execute everything to make sure we could succeed against them.”

“They’re the defending league champs,” Fortescue said. “Winning this was huge for us.”

Upper Dublin hosts its annual Cardinal Classic next week while PW also hosts a tournament late next week.

“It’s one game at a time,” Dougherty said. “The kids are going to enjoy this but it’s one game at a time. The message to the kids is there’s no trophy after the fifth game of the season.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh 50, Upper Dublin 37
Upper Dublin 10 4 11 12 – 37
Plymouth Whitemarsh 14 7 12 17 – 50
Upper Dublin (37): Demi Balasa 5 0-0 14, Jackie Vargas 3 4-5 10, Kara Grebe 3 0-0 6, Nicole Kaiser 2 0-0 4, Josie Barrett 1 0-0 3. Nonscoring: Maggie Weglos, Meghan Barbera, Becky Browndorf. Totals: 14 4-5 37
Plymouth Whitemarsh (50): Lauren Fortescue 5 5-10 16, Taylor O’Brien 4 5-6 13, Lauren Coscia 6 2-2 14, Ali Diamond 1 4-4 7. Nonscoring: Laurel Suchsland, Sarah Putsch. Totals: 16 16-22 50
3-pointers: UD – Balasa 4, Barrett; PW – Diamond, Fortescue

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