Dowd, Walbrandt lock down, lead Souderton to win over Council Rock South

WARMINSTER >> Not even 24 hours after its biggest win of the season, things weren’t going well for the Souderton girls basketball team.

Shots weren’t falling and aside from forward Kate Connolly, nobody in white and red could seem to grab a rebound. The Indians trailed by as many as eight, and by seven after a quarter. Then, the defense turned up, players started attacking the basket and things started to even out.

Buoyed by a strong third quarter, Souderton went on to top Council Rock South 39-32 Saturday afternoon at William Tennent as part of the SOL Challenge.

“There weren’t many things we had to change,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “We were getting shots we wanted in the first half, we were getting to the foul line. We started the game by missing an open layup and it was kind of a sign of things to come. We were getting looks but we didn’t do a good job boxing out, which was a four-quarter thing, but we did better in the second half.”

Connolly ended up eight points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals but it was the two-way play of point guard Tori Dowd and wing Megan Walbrandt that was the difference against the Golden Hawks. Dowd and Walbrandt spent their afternoon taking turns hounding South’s tough-as-nails point guard Payton Spadaccino on defense and making the drives into the lane on offense that got Big Red going again.

Dowd scored a team-high 10 points with three rebounds, two assists and a steal while Walbrandt had nine points, four boards and three blocks of her own. Walbrandt, a sophomore, scored the first five points of the second half, then assisted an And-one to Connolly to have a hand in the first eight after halftime.

“We needed to execute more on offense and play our kind of defense,” Walbrandt said. “We had a tough game (against Central Bucks South on Friday) and we were all kind of tired, so we had to pick up the intensity.”

Souderton did not have junior forward Alana Cardona due to a funeral, so that certainly affected the Indians on both ends of the floor. Cardona is a tough rebounder and without her on offense, it changed a lot of Souderton’s sets and plays.

The Indians got their first three points from Connolly foul shots, then went 4:17 without a point while CR South built an 11-3 edge with Spadaccino spearheading the charge. Souderton’s first basket came from reserve Curran O’Donnell with 1:47 left in the first, but it set off a 5-2 spurt by Souderton to close the first quarter.

Every Souderton point in the second came from Connolly or Dowd, and five of the seven were from the free throw line. At the break, Souderton was just 3-of-16 from the floor, but thanks to its defense, it had tied the game 15-15 and allowed just two points to the Hawks.

“In the second half, we had a better balance of twos and 3s,” Dowd said. “At first, the 3s were open and we were taking them, but they weren’t falling. We did better at attacking the basket.”

During the second quarter, Walbrandt switched onto Spadaccino and kept the Hawks floor general in front of her. The sophomore stayed on Spadaccino into the third before Dowd switched back, with both defenders doing that to mix up defensive looks and keep themselves somewhat fresh for the finish.

As Walbrandt noted, neither she nor Dowd comes out very often, so they have to find ways to conserve energy somewhere on the floor. Dowd said switching assignments can be confusing to the players they’re guarding as well and sometimes leads to turnovers or a defensive stop.

“In general, if you’re buckling down on defense, the offense comes,” Dowd said. “Shutting down their best two players is always really helpful and it makes other people have to step up for them.”

“We didn’t want to let (Spadaccino) drive to the basket,” Walbrandt said. “That’s what she’s good at, so if you can do that, you keep her points to a minimum.”

The Indians had an 11-0 run to start the third quarter and outscored South 15-6 in the frame with Walbrandt eventually accounting for seven of those 15. She pointed to a couple of the early layups and the two baskets the Indians created off Hawks turnovers as the turning points offensively.

After closing out CB South at the foul line on Friday, Souderton did not do that nearly as well in the fourth quarter on Saturday. The free throw line has been a nemesis for the Indians all year, where they’re shooting about 55 percent as a team for the season.

Going 18-of-33 for the game, Souderton shot 7-of-14 from the line in the fourth, though Rock didn’t close the gap to a single-digit one until just 49 seconds remained. So much of foul shooting is routine and confidence, something the Indians need to be more consistent with.

“We were tired from last night, but it shows we need to focus, buckle down and concentrate on making them,” Walbrandt said.

“You could say that we are fortunate to have won this game,” Carroll said. “Last night was a huge win and we won it off foul shots. It’s a tough turnaround, but we can’t afford to shoot the way we did tonight.”

Even with all that, Souderton went 4-0 this week to end the first half of the season on a high note. At 4-2 in the SOL Continental, the Indians are still very much in the title picture and they’re also aiming to make the district tournament.

“It’s a very positive week,” Carroll said. “We have another tough one on Tuesday with CB East, so there’s no time to rest.”

Souderton 39, Council Rock South 32
Council Rock South 13 2 6 11 – 32
Souderton 8 7 15 9 – 39
CR South (32): Payton Spadaccino 1 1-4 3, Kasey Schlupp 3 2-2 10, Faith Turner 3 1-2 7, Allison McGowan 1 0-0 2, Hannah Binder 1 0-0 2, Emma Jones 1 0-0 2, Claudia Steinmetz 1 2-3 4, India Mayo 0 2-2 2. Nonscoring: Vetter. Totals 11 8-13 32.
Souderton (39): Tori Dowd 2 6-13 10, Megan Bealer 1 0-1 2, Megan Walbrandt 3 3-5 9, Sami Falencki 1 3-4 6, Kate Connolly 1 6-9 8, Curran O’Donnell 1 0-0 2, Erica Stephens 1 0-1 2. Totals: 10 18-33 39.
3-pointers: CRS – Schlupp 2; S – Falencki

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