Huber, North Penn handle Souderton

TOWAMENCIN >> Nobody is quite sure what’s gotten into Jess Huber the last few weeks.

The North Penn senior is firmly on a roll and no coincidence, so are the Knights. Huber stepped up again Friday night, scoring 21 points and hitting another clutch 3-point shot as North Penn fended off a fiesty Souderton team, 44-33 on the Knights’ Senior Night.

“I’m just doing anything to help my team out,” Huber said. “They’ve all been so unselfish, it’s incredible. They keep finding me and they all know how important it is to get points up and I give all the credit to my teammates, they see me and find me when I’m the open person.”

Huber’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter sparked a 7-0 North Penn run that ended Souderton’s biggest threat and snapped a nearly eight minute Knights scoring drought.

“She does seem to get open and hit big shots for us,” North Penn coach Maggie deMarteleire said.

As for what’s been spurring the senior on, that’s the question.

“I have no idea, all of a sudden she’s really been averaging quite a few points,” deMarteleire said. “The one week we had three games and she scored 67 points. She’s raised her level.”

Souderton was again shorthanded, with junior point guard Tori Dowd on crutches with an ankle injury. Dowd, aside from being the Indians’ primary facilitator on offense, is the team’s most tenacious on-ball defender.

Her replacement in the starting five, sophomore Megan O’Donnell, didn’t back down from the challenge of guarding North Penn’s Sam Carangi.

“I was real happy we kept fighting, we were down (17) and cut it down to four and had some momentum,” Souderton coach Lynn Carroll said. “Even when it was clear at the end we weren’t going to win, they kept trying to execute and compete. I was happy to see Kate (Connolly) trying to take over as she has been since missing a game a couple weeks ago. I really wish we could have played them with Tori because what Tori brings, in my opinion, is irreplaceable.”

As a team, Souderton was aggressive defensively, forcing North Penn into eight first-half turnovers. But the Knights kept attacking the basket, getting three And-1 chances in the second quarter.

Early on, Souderton rode an energized start by junior forward Alana Cardona, who scored five of the team’s first nine points and drew an offensive foul on Bri Hewlett to open the second quarter. Cardona was quieted after picking up her second foul early in the second quarter.

Huber picked up her third foul with 2:46 left in the first half, putting her on the bench until the break.

North Penn’s Irisa Ye (11) and Jenny Hulmes  strip the ball from Souderton’s Megan Walbrandt as she drives for the basket during their game on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

The Knights led 12-9 after one but started the second on a 6-0 run, getting a pair of second chance hoops to fuel it. North Penn scored 11 of the first 13 points in the second, all by Huber and Irisa Ye, to take a 23-11 lead with 2:02 left until the break.

“We keep our confidence up and keep playing North Penn basketball,” Carangi said. “We have some stretches in games where we let it go at the end of games, we’ll have a lead and then start to let teams come back and we can’t do that anymore.”

North Penn started the third quarter well and built a 32-15 lead with 3:52 left in the frame. After that, the well dried up and the Knights couldn’t score. North Penn went on a nearly eight minute drought, during which, the Indians started to whittle down the lead.

“We seem to find a number in some games where we’re stuck on it forever and 32 was it tonight,” deMarteleire said. “I thought we played really good defense tonight, then Jess hits a 3 and gets fouled going to the basket. That kind of stopped the bleeding, which we needed.”

Connolly, who led Souderton with 12 points, scored six straight to open the fourth quarter, slicing the Knights lead down to 32-28 with 4:04 left.

Then, Huber got the ball, wide-open on the left wing and buried the shot.

“I honestly don’t know (how Huber gets so open), she’s had so many big games I’m not sure why teams aren’t leaving her,” Carangi said. “I think if we keep running our offenses through like we know how, we’ll get an open shot. It’s bound to happen.”

After two foul shots by Huber, Bri Hewlett scored a tough basket inside to put North Penn up 39-28 with 2:37 to play. With Souderton fouling to extend the game, the Knights made just 1-of-4 foul shots, but defended well enough to keep Souderton from cutting the lead any lower than nine points.

Fittingly, Huber hit her last four foul shots to pretty much seal the deal, putting the Knights up 14 before Souderton’s Sami Falencki hit a 3 for the final margin.

North Penn plays Sunday night against Abington Friends School in the Blue Chip showcase at Harriton. Souderton is off until next week, when it hosts Central Bucks West on Tuesday. Carroll hoped Dowd would be able to bounce back by then, but still took plenty from Friday’s showing.

“We’re going to be OK, we just have to get back to full strength and get healthy,” Carroll said. “It was hard to get into what we like to do offensively but that’s what a seasoned team like North Penn does, they handle a run and they don’t panic, make plays and find ways to win games.”

North Penn 44, Souderton 33
Souderton 9 6 7 11 – 33
North Penn 12 13 7 12 – 44
Souderton: Megan Bealer 1 0-0 2, Alana Cardona 3 1-2 7, Megan Walbrandt 2 2-2 7, Sami Falencki 2 0-0 5, Kate Connolly 5 2-4 12. Nonscoring: Megan O’Donnell, Curran O’Donnell. Totals: 13 5-8 33.
North Penn: Irisa Ye 5 1-2 11, Jess Huber 6 6-10 21, Sam Carangi 1 1-2 3, Jess McKenzie 1 1-2 3, Bri Hewlett 3 0-1 6. Nonscoring: Jenny Hulmes, Emily Groarke. Totals: 16 9-17 44.
3-pointers: S – Walbrandt, Falencki; NP – Huber 3.

Top Photo: Souderton’s Kate Connolly tries to slap away a rebound by North Penn’s Jess Huber during their game on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media

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