Girls’ basketball: Coatesville clamps down on D-town East in second half for win

UWCHLAN >> Holding a slim lead at halftime Thursday, Coatesville came out of the locker room red hot, outscoring host Downingtown East, 16-2, in the third quarter en route to a 52-37 win.
With the win, the Red Raiders improved to 9-2 in the Ches-Mont National Division, in first place by a half-game ahead of West Chester Henderson (8-2), while Downingtown East fell to 7-3.
The Red Raiders finish their Ches-Mont slate next Tuesday at second-place Henderson.
Coatesville (16-5 overall) has been making a habit of red-hot third quarters. Last Friday, Coatesville led Downingtown West by a single point at halftime, then outscored the Whippets 24-6 in the third quarter and cruised to a 64-33 win. Thursday night, the Red Raiders held a 29-26 halftime lead, then went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter.
“The third quarter is our priority, even when we’re [ahead] at halftime,” said Coatesville senior guard Dee Dee Irwin, who scored 20 points Thursday night. “In the first half, we go through our trials and tribulations, and then we re-focus at halftime.”
Coatesville head coach Tem Mack said, “For any of our games, when we come out of the locker room after halftime, we treat it like it’s a different game, like the score is 0-0. We didn’t make any big adjustments at halftime tonight, I just told the girls to run that triangle well, and reminded them to rebound. I think we made only four turnovers in the second half.”
Downingtown East (13-6), coming off a 34-23 win against Great Valley Wednesday, started Thursday’s game with an 8-0 run in the first two minutes, with 5-11 junior guard Olivia Williams hitting two treys.
The Cougars’ 6-5 freshman center Bella Smuda and 5-9 junior forward Erin Phelan then worked inside for a couple of baskets and a 12-4 lead for the hosts.
“We were moving the ball well, with multiple players getting their hands on the ball,” said Downingtown East head coach Tom Schurtz.
Coatesville then took off on an 11-0 run of its own, with Irwin driving inside and getting six of the points, as the visitors took a 15-12 lead.
“Seeing Downingtown East come out strong at the beginning of the game really woke us up,” said Irwin, who has been averaging 19 points per game this season.
The Cougars battled Coatesville evenly the rest of the first half, and trailed by only three points (29-26) at the half. Smuda had eight points for Downingtown East, while Irwin and senior forward Brianna White paced the Red Raiders with eight points apiece.
Coatesville held a 31-28 lead shortly after halftime when the Red Raiders went on a 14-0 tear for the rest of the third quarter. Five different Coatesville players scored during the run – Irwin, White, sophomore Sarah Huston, junior Amaya Douglas and senior Siani Brown. Meanwhile, Downingtown East’s shooting turned cold and the Cougars made several costly turnovers.
“Give credit to Coatesville’s defense,” said Schurtz. “They did a nice job of pressuring us [in the third quarter], and we got rattled a little bit. We had too many empty possessions in the third quarter. Going forward, we need to do a little better job with ball movement, creating situations to get effective shots.”
Mack said, “Our players just locked in [defensively] in the third quarter.”
For Downingtown East, Thursday’s contest was its third game in three days. The Cougars lost to West Chester Henderson 40-31 Tuesday and defeated Great Valley 34-23 Wednesday, with Williams and Phelan combining for 20 points in the victory.
“We played well against Great Valley,” said Schurtz. “It’s tough playing three games in a row [in three days]. Maybe we ran out of gas a little bit tonight.”
NOTES >> While Coatesville (9-2) travels to Henderson (8-2) next Tuesday, Downingtown East (7-3) hosts Bishop Shanahan (7-3).

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