Upper Dublin makes quick work of Wissahickon

LOWER GWYNEDD >> The Upper Dublin girls basketball team scored the first 19 points against Wissahickon Friday night and never looked back. It maintained a sizeable lead all game and walked away with a 61-21 Suburban One League American Conference win at Wissahickon High School.

“We knew Wissahickon has been playing well,” Upper Dublin coach Morgan Funsten said. “We really wanted to have a good start tonight to prove to ourselves that we’re not going to look past them and give them the respect they deserve. We came out, made some shots early and got them out of their zone. It was a high pace early on and we made a lot of shots, it was great.”

“We didn’t knock down shots,” Wissahickon coach Rodney Cline said of the slow start. “When (Upper Dublin goes) 5-for-6 from the field right off the bat — they’re a good shooting team, they always have been. Give the credit where credit is due. We didn’t come out and close out when we needed to, we didn’t rotate the way we needed to.”

Cardinals forward Nicole Kaiser scored a game-high 18 points and Josie Barrett and Jackie Vargas each added 10.

Julianne Griffin led the Trojans in scoring with six points, Victoria Selverian added five and Brianna Tilghman four.

Eyes on the prize

After this win, Upper Dublin shifts its focus to Plymouth Whitemarsh and the SOL American title. PW is undefeated in league play and gave the Cardinals (7-1 SOL American) their only loss. The teams play Tuesday night at Upper Dublin.

“We have an idea of what we want to do to win the game Tuesday night,” Funsten said. “We’ve been excited about playing them since the night we lost. We wished we could play them the next night. We know they’re going to be ready for us. We have two days of practice to really get ready. The girls are excited about playing them again and we’re excited about having them at home.”

Defensively speaking

Upper Dublin put on another great defensive performance Friday night — holding Wissahickon to 21 points and forcing 19 turnovers.

“The girls are doing a better job of staying connected defensively,” Funsten said. “It’s a term that we use — just being aware and knowing where each other are, if somebody goes to trap to rotate to the person who is one pass away. We tried to have a high pace tonight which sometimes yields points defensively, but I thought we did a good job — especially in the second half with our transition defense getting back and not giving them clean looks.”

This year the Cardinals are allowing less than 30 points per game.

Trust the process

Wissahickon is not on Upper Dublin’s level at this point, and that’s OK with Cline. He sees improvement in the Trojans over the last few years and thinks they are headed in the right direction.

“We’re not there yet,” Cline said. “It’s going to take some time to get there.

“This is a process. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but we’re better than what we were. (Upper Dublin is) a good program that’s been established for some time. Their feeder program is good, I give them all the credit. We’ll be there, just give us our time. We’re better this year, we’re going to get better next year and better the year after that … It’s baby steps. We’re confident in what we do. We work hard. We’re establishing a changing of the culture. We’re going to get there.”

Wissahickon entered Friday’s game No. 22 in the latest unofficial District 1 Class-6A power rankings. The top 24 teams make the playoffs.

“We’ve won more games this year than almost the last three years combined,” Cline said of his 8-7 team.

“Last three teams we played were the best teams in the conference. We played Neshaminy — top of their conference. We played PW who is undefeated. We played Upper Dublin — second team … Now we go to teams that we compete with on a better level, let the chips fall where they may. If we can go on a five, six-game winning streak now and go with some momentum into the playoffs, any given night.”

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