With Adams ‘home,’ Marple Newtown shows improvement

NEWTOWN SQUARE >> Devon Adams transferred to Marple Newtown prior to her junior year.

It’s where she says she always belonged.

The 6-foot-3 forward had spent two seasons playing at Bishop Shanahan under former Cardinal O’Hara athlete Fran Burbidge, but Adams has been a Marple Newtown kid her entire life.

“I felt like I was coming home, to be honest,” Adams said following the Tigers’ 57-26 nonleague loss to Plymouth-Whitemarsh Saturday.

“I feel like our team is coming together pretty well and I think next year, we should be pretty good.”

With Adams playing alongside several players with whom she grew up, the Tigers have made steady progress under second-year coach Ryan Wolski, who is also a former Cardinal O’Hara athlete.

“When I was coming here, and having lived in the school district my whole life, I knew that they were young last year and struggled without a lot of wins,” Adams said. “But I knew we could only get better.”

Indeed, the Tigers (9-9) have played above expectations this season. After going 5-16 last winter, the Tigers won their sixth game Jan. 10 and are well on their way to a double-digit campaign. They are in the middle of the pack in the District 1 Class 5A power rankings, but a solid final few weeks of the regular season should ensure a playoff berth.

Adams has performed a key role for the Tigers as she averages roughly a double-double per game. After Saturday’s contest, Adams, who committed to Division I Wagner College in October, is averaging 12 points per game, which puts her among the top-15 scorers in Delco.

“The (Central League) is dominated by guard play, so having Devon helps,” Wolski said. “Sometimes we do struggle against teams with very good guard play. We try to get her the ball, but sometimes we struggle. We’re not the quickest teams … and sometimes we have a tough time against those quicker teams and that sort of limits her chances. It’s tough to get her the ball inside sometimes, but when we play teams that we match up with height-wise, or speed-wise, she can make a difference for us.”

Saturday’s game was not indicative of Adams’ performance this season. She was held to four points on 2-for-6 shooting, although she grabbed 10 rebounds.

Plymouth-Whitemarsh (17-0) is one of the best teams in the district for a reason. Led by exciting junior guard Taylor O’Brien, the Colonials were a difficult matchup for the Tigers, who were limited to eight points in the first half.

O’Brien was a terror. She scored 19 of her game-high 23 points in the first half. A guard who can dribble, drive and shoot from anywhere on the floor, O’Brien finished with five steals, five rebounds and three assists.

“Every day is a new challenge for us,” said O’Brien, who plays AAU ball for Philly Triple Threat. “Every day we come to face new teams and we get through those teams one at a time. It’s building blocks.”

The Colonials could be the team to beat in District 1 Class 6A come playoff time. Last year, they were bounced in the first round of the postseason in the Class AAAA tournament.

What has made P-W so successful in 2016-17? Well, a lot of things.

“It’s communicating, moving the ball around and being able to see passes and knocking down open shots,” said O’Brien, who went 7-for-16 from the field with two 3-pointers and converted 7 of 12 attempts at the free-throw line. “Everything has to flow and it will all work out.”

The Colonials put the game out of reach with a 12-0 run to start the second quarter. They led at halftime, 35-8.

“It’s tough coming back after a tough game (Friday) night (a 57-39 loss to Radnor) and playing an undefeated P-W team that has arguably one of the best players in the area in Taylor O’Brien,” Wolski said. “We knew we weren’t quick enough to go man on her. It’s the same thing with like a Hannah Nihill (Cardinal O’Hara, 2016 Daily Times Player of the Year). It’s so hard to cover a guard who’s left-handed. She gets to the basket, she can shoot, she can penetrate and she can pass. So we came out and tried going zone and force them into making some outside shots. When they pressed us, they got a couple steals and next thing you know, we’re down. When you’re losing, you can’t sit in zone so we had to go man. Our help defense wasn’t the greatest today and I think that’s when they broke the game open.”

Olivia Young had five points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal for the Tigers. Natalie Ayoub chipped in two points, seven rebounds and a steal, while Shannon McCarthy played well defensively.

Lauren Fortescue added 17 points, three steals and two assists for Plymouth-Whitemarsh. Power forward Lauren Coscia added eight points, six rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.

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