DLN Girls’ Basketball: West Chester Henderson rebounds to the top

West Chester Henderson, tied for first place in the Ches-Mont National Division and ranked first in Tuesday’s PIAA Class 5A District One power rankings, has been rebounding all season long.
For the season, the Warriors (15-5, 8-2) are averaging 39 rebounds per game, compared to 27 boards per contest for their opponents.
Tuesday, the Warriors outrebounded the tall Downingtown East squad 39-20, with Viki Kneis and Emma Bertrando pulling down eight rebounds apiece, Abbey Shea seven and Erin Torrance five.
“We talked a lot about all five players boxing out, and releasing quickly to the ball,” said Henderson head coach Greta Neff. “I thought that we rebounded very well on both ends of the court.”
In a 47-38 win against Downingtown West Jan. 24, the Warriors outrebounded the Whippets 42-28; then outrebounded West Chester East 45-31 two days later for a 64-37 victory.
The Warriors’ depth and versatility also has been paying dividends lately. Against Downingtown West, the Warriors upped the tempo of the game and let its defense create some offense for a 47-38 win. Junior guard Maddie DePrisco provided on-court leadership, with Kneis and Shea (eight rebounds) providing strength on the boards.
“At any given point, any member of our team is capable of making big plays,” said Neff. “Tuesday night’s game was a great example of a total team game [for us]. Abbey Shea kept us in the game in the first quarter, Erin Thompson made some huge shots in the second [quarter], Erin Torrance and Grace Ferguson had some huge rebounds, Brynn Cullinan and Viki Kneis were on the floor and after every loose ball, and Emma Bertrando (7-for-8 at the free throw line) and Maddie DePrisco made some clutch and free throws at the end.”
West Chester Rustin, in first place (9-1) by half a game over Oxford (8-1) in the Ches-Mont American Division, got 20 points from Erin Gallagher in Tuesday’s 55-45 win against Unionville. According to Rustin head coach Jim Powers, Gallagher is much more than a scorer.
“Erin is good for about seven rebounds a game and 2-3 blocked shots a game and is a solid defender,” said Powers. “She usually draws the big opponents and does a solid job against them. She might be a bit undersized, but is smart and uses her body well for positioning. We ask a lot from her in that role and we could not be happier with the job she does at both ends of the floor.”
The Golden Knights also got 22 points from sophomore Dikaya Daniels, who went 10-for-13 from the free throw line. Daniels, a transfer from Illinois who prior to the Unionville game was averaging 6.5 ppg for the Golden Knights this season, has adjusted well to Rustin’s more up-tempo, attacking style, according to Powers.
“Dikaya had a big night [Tuesday] attacking the basket and making decisions with the ball,” said Powers.
Oxford, only a half-game behind Rustin in the Ches-Mont American Division with an 8-1 record, ground out a 46-33 victory against Sun Valley Tuesday, getting 13 points from both junior guard Madeline Williams (who started for the Hornets as a sophomore) and senior Emily Shallow.
“Emily has been real steady for us this year,” said Oxford head coach Brian Urig. “Her stats [for the season] are not overwhelming, but she has been in the right place at the right time often, and has made some key shots during several games this season.”
Senior center Grace Hennessey has been a prolific rebounder for the Hornets, grabbing eight rebounds (six defensive in the win against Sun Valley, and 13 rebounds in the Hornets’ 44-20 win against Avon Grove three days earlier.
The defense never rests at Conestoga (18-1), the top-ranked team in the Daily Local News’ 7 Best. The Pioneers have been consistently holding opponents under 30 points per game and held a strong Springfield squad to 26 points Tuesday night.
“I am extremely pleased with our defensive progress,” said Conestoga head coach Chris Jeffries. “Springfield is a very well-coached team with some real weapons and we were proud to make such a statement on the defensive end of the floor.”
Junior center Katie Mayock continues to dominate (14 ppg, 10 rpg, more than 3 bpg) and 5-9 senior forward Liz Scott (8 ppg, 5 rpg, more than 3 spg) “continues to be a defensive monster,” according to Jeffries.
Conestoga has just three regular season games to go, its final one at Garnet Valley Feb. 9. The Jaguars handed the Pioneers their only loss of the season Jan. 18, a 37-20 defeat.
Heading into post-season play, all of the Pioneers are healthy except for junior guard Maria Koblish, a starter who has torn her ACL and will miss the rest of the season.
While Conestoga is the only Chesco squad in the top 15 teams of the PIAA District 1 6A power rankings as of Jan. 31, there are four Chester County squads in spots 16-20: Coatesville (16th), Downingtown East (17th), Oxford (18th) and Unionville (20th). A total of 24 teams qualify for Districts in 6A. Other Chesco squads in the top 32 include Kennett (26th), Downingtown West (30th) and Great Valley (31st).
In the PIAA District 1 5A power rankings as of Jan. 31, Chesco teams are prevalent at the top, with Henderson (first), Villa Maria (fourth), Bishop Shanahan (fifth) and West Chester Rustin (sixth).

DLN Girls Basketball 7 Best

1. Conestoga
2. Coatesville
3. West Chester Henderson
4. Downingtown East
5. Villa Maria Academy
6. Oxford
7. West Chester Rustin

Bruce Adams covers girls basketball for Digital First Media and PaPrepLive.com. You can reach him at badams@21st-centurymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLineSports.

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