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St. Basil stays unbeaten with win over Gwynedd Mercy

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Call it the away court advantage.

“We’re better on a bigger floor,” St. Basil coach Terry Mancini said, and rightfully so after his team put on an impressive performance at Gwynedd Mercy Academy Thursday night. “We can spread out, and spacing is so important with our offense. And you saw that in the second half.”

The Panthers got going in the third quarter against Gwynedd, turning a tight, five-point advantage into an 18-point cushion, going on to a 53-25 victory over the Monarchs in a Catholic Academies League contest.

Unbeaten on the road and at home, St. Basil improved to 13-0, including a 7-0 mark in the league.

“In the locker room at halftime, we talked about intensity and getting up our energy,” said Panther junior Jules Gura. “We just had to take a deep breath and collect ourselves.

“This court’s an advantage to us because we use a lot of space on the floor, but it does get really loud. It’s a little bit of a tough place to play but it works to our advantage in some ways.”

St. Basil’s Lizzie Deal gets fouled as she drives between Gwynedd Mercy’s Carly Bachinsky and Reganne Flannery during their game on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

It was Gura who came up with a steal and breakaway layin to stretch the Basil lead to 22-13 early in the third. She later got into the Gwynedd passing lane, intercepted the ball and was on her way to another steal and layup, this one stretching the advantage to 20.

Those two plays were part of a 17-4 third quarter for the visitors, as the Panthers cracked open the game and found enough room to start hitting pivotal threes — they would hit a total of 11 in the contest.

“We were sluggish in the first half and a little out of sync, and you have to give credit to Gwynedd — they did a real nice job without one of their really good players (Maura Conroy, out sick),” Mancini said. “Usually that happens when one of your best players isn’t playing — the other girls step up.

“Once our girls settled down in the second half, we got into the flow and Jules had a real big steal to start that for us,” said Mancini, whose team won 40-19 over GMA earlier in the year at home. “I think our defensive pressure helped us get going in the second half. Physically and defensively, GMA did a real good job in the first half — they have a good coach (Tom Lonergan), good team. So to come into this gym and win a game is a good thing.”

Basil’s defense led to a several contributions on offense, as Gura had 10 points, Casey Remolde had seven, Cheryl Remolde, Kelly Grant and Lizzie Deal each hit a pair of threes to add six points apiece, and senior Natalie Kucowski, stabilizing Basil in the early going with tough rebounding, led all scorers with 11.

Gwynedd Mercy’s Reganne Flannery turns for the basket past St. Basil’s Kelly Grant during their game on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

The Monarchs, who got a team-high eight points from Megan Dougherty, closed to 18-13 at the half.

“It didn’t go as expected in the second half,” Dougherty said. “I just don’t think we came out as strong, started to lose our focus. I think we need to take a step back, go over what we did, what we could have done better. And hopefully we’ll see them in the playoffs.

“Our first half was incredible. We all played as a team. We really focused on boxing out, especially on Nat (Kucowski). That was our main point, to help collapse on her, and make sure we were contesting threes.”

The Monarchs host Mount St. Joe’s Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and the Panthers tip off at that same time at home against Country Day School.

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