TOWAMENCIN >> Illness took its toll on the North Penn girls basketball team’s practice attendance this week.
“Jess (Huber) missed the last two days of school she came in today and Sam (Carangi) she missed yesterday and she came in today as well,” Knights coach Maggie deMarteleire said. “So I think it was the first time in four years the two of them haven’t been in practice.
“It’s kind of funny we do this routine at the end of practice and Sam does one thing and Jess does the other. Yesterday, we started clapping, nobody (did it), so then Irisa (Ye) jumped in.”
It might have been a reason why North Penn got off to a sluggish start Friday night, falling behind by six after a quarter to visiting Central Bucks East.
But while the Knights were under the weather, they were also just plain sick and tired of losing to Central Bucks sides on their home floor.
North Penn rallied to take a one-point lead at halftime then came out firing from long distance in the third quarter. Four three-pointers powered a 14-2 run that the Knights used to pull away from the cold-shooting Patriots and claim a 43-29 Suburban One League Continental Conference victory.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) January 14, 2017
“We just wanted to cut down on our turnovers, we were playing good defense. So we wanted to keep that up and make even better decisions on offense, North Penn’s Bri Hewlett said. “And I think we just started knocking down shots in the second half.
Hewlett was one of four different Knights to connect from beyond the arc in the third as she scored nine of NP’s 18 points in the quarter. The junior finished with a team-high 15 points as North Penn (9-2, 4-2 conference) picked up a third straight win.
“My teammates were just finding me and I was getting open shots. It was kind of just the luck of the draw I guess, whatever — I was open,” Hewlett said.
Irisa Ye added 10 points for the Knights, who held an opponent under 30 points for the second straight game and for the fifth time this season.
“I thought they did a really nice job digging down and just persevering,” deMarteleire said. “First half I think we were giving up transition buckets which we don’t normally do. And East took advantage of it, they finished and they ran the floor well.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half, defensively I thought we did a really nice job. Bri did a great job on Bridget Birkhead. I thought she did a really nice job on her.”
Birkhead had a game-high 17 points – 11 in the first half – for the Patriots, who just could not get the ball to drop after the first eight minutes. CB East (6-5, 3-3) had just four field goals and 15 points in the last three periods as its five-game win streak came to an end.
The win has North Penn in a three-way tie for second place with Central Bucks South and Souderton at the midway point of the SOL Continental play.
“I’m really proud of the girls. I thought they did an outstanding job with all the sickness. So, it was good,” deMarteleire said.
The Knights visit conference leader Central Bucks West Tuesday but before that take on Episcopal Academy 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the Maggie Lucas Classic at Philadelphia University.
“We have a very busy week,” deMarteleire said.
Central Bucks East plays 3 p.m. Saturday at Council Rock North in the SOL Challenge.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) January 14, 2017
The Patriots were trying for a CB sweep at North Penn – the Knights previously falling to West 46-43 Dec. 16 then South 48-34 Jan. 5. But those chances ended with NP’s fast start to the third.
The Knights led 20-19 at the break and pushed the margin to 26-19 after back-to-back threes from Huber and Hewlett. Bri Talbot scored after rebounding her own miss to get East within five but Ye responded with a triple in transition to make it 29-21.
Jess McKenzie’s bounce pass found Hewlett inside for layup. Carangi capped the 14-2 run with a three for a 34-21 advantage.
“It was nice in the third quarter that we had several different people hit threes to kind of open up the game,” deMarteleire said. “Obviously you’re not ever going to consistently hit threes but we can shoot better than what we’ve been shooting overall. So that would be nice if we can start to get going from that.”
Birkhead made two free throws at 1:41 then hit a corner three, cutting the margin to 34-26, but Hewlett scored four of the quarter’s last five points – Huber finding her inside just before the buzzer to put North Penn 38-27 heading to the fourth.
“She rebounds and she plays defense. She doesn’t take a second off,” deMarteleire said of Hewlett.
The teams combined for just seven points in the fourth as East could not mount a comeback and North Penn was content with running the clock. The Knights’ lead grew to as large as 16 after a Carley Adams basket made it 43-27.
After a Ye step-back jumper pulled North Penn to within 11-8, Birkhead scored three straight points – her jumper off a turnover giving East a 14-8 edge at the end of first quarter.
But the Knights reined in their turnovers and the Patriots offense went silent. North Penn collected the period’s first six points, Huber’s basket putting it ahead 15-14. Birkhead scored to give East back the lead but a Hewlett jumper and a Huber three had the Knights up 20-16. Birkhead’s deep three made it a one-point game at halftime.
North Penn 43, Central Bucks East 29
Central Bucks East 14 5 8 2 — 29
North Penn 8 12 18 5 — 43
Central Bucks East: Bridget Birkhead 5 4-6 17; Megan Browne 2 0-0 4; Bri Talbot 2 0-0 4; Abby Charlton 0 2-2 2; Bailey McManus 1 0-0 2. Totals 10 6-8 29.
North Penn: Bri Hewlett 7 0-0 15; Irisa Ye 3 3-4 10; Jess Huber 3 0-0 9; Sam Carangi 3 0-0 7; Carley Adams 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 3-4 43.
Three-pointers: CBE-Birkhead 3; NP-Huber 3, Carangi, Hewlett, Ye.
Top Photo: North Penn’s Irisia Ye gets squeezed between Central Bucks East’s Megan Browne and Briana Talbot during their game on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.