Souderton starters clicking; Methacton’s DeOrio hits 1,000

WORCESTER >> It took some time to get them all together, but Souderton’s starting five has something working right now.

Having seemingly shaken off a spell of injuries and other ailments that kept the Indians from putting their first five on the floor together, Souderton is heading into the postseason on a bit of a roll. The first five of Tori Dowd, Megan Bealer, Megan Walbrandt, Alana Cardona and Kate Connolly is simply put, clicking on all cylinders.

Saturday night, they shrugged off an ice-cold start against a good Methacton team on the road, using defense and a strong final three quarters to pick up a 55-47 win.

“We’re all really good friends, so that helps a lot,” Cardona, who posted 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, said. “The fact they’re all great basketball players is also a big part of it. To be able to know if Meg Bealer shoots, its either going to go in or Kate’s going to get the rebound and put it back in. Having that, it almost puts your mind at ease because your teammates are all there for each other.”

Souderton (17-4, 8-3 SOL Continental) started the game 1-of-16 from the floor and trailed 10-2 after a quarter. It was Methacton’s (17-5, 8-2 PAC Liberty) Senior Night, with all four Warriors seniors starting, so they had plenty of energy. Yet, Souderton was getting good shots, they just weren’t falling.

What the Indians were doing was playing good defense. Cardona, Connolly and Walbrandt all had multiple blocks and Bealer even rejected a shot, showcasing a well-timed and well-practiced help defense on the interior. That was due to the pressure exerted up top by Dowd, Bealer and Walbrandt.

Walbrandt is the team’s defensive fulcrum, able to get up and pressure a guard 93 feet but also able to drop into the post, slide over and use her wingspan to alter or block shots.

“We can be up in their face and be confident doing that because we know we have help in the lane,” Dowd said. “That’s such a big help for us.”

Dowd, who had five points, six rebounds and two assists, said the team was a little shaken after its shockingly slow start but the huddle between quarters helped settle the players down and buckle down on defense. Dowd and Walbrandt, as they so often do, took turns guarding Methacton senior Ryan DeOrio, who had a team-high 15 points and scored her 1,000th point in the loss.

Meanwhile, Cardona and Connolly had their backs, the mixture of size, length and athletic ability the perfect backstop to the chaos the guards were creating up top.

Bealer, who started the season coming off the bench, has been a major contributor in all areas since moving to the starting unit. The sophomore had 12 points, eight rebounds, a block and three assists and, as coach Lynn Carroll noted, gets her boards without a lot of fanfare.

“She’s playing with a lot of confidence and has turned into a really, really reliable defender for us,” Carroll said. “She had a couple big 3s, she made two big foul shots, she has been playing really well for us. She’s hitting the boards but they’re quiet rebounds. When Kate gets a rebound, it’s obvious but when Megan Bealer gets a rebound, you don’t notice it but she’s been consistently getting six or seven rebounds.”

They all have their roles. Teammates rave about Dowd’s defense and how her intensity in turn, fuels them, Bealer is the all-around stat line stuffer and Walbrandt the two-way impacting Swiss Army Knife. Cardona, with her athleticism, controls the paint.

What Connolly does is close. Through three quarters on Saturday, she was scoreless. Then the scoreboard lights flipped from a “3” to a “4” under the quarter sign and the junior went to work. Connolly, who also had 10 rebounds and four assists, scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, breaking a 38-38 tie and later staking the Indians to a five-point lead they wouldn’t give back.

“She does that,” Walbrandt said. “It just makes everyone else so confident in ourselves knowing she can make those big shots when she has to.”

Connolly was clutch in Tuesday’s win over Central Bucks West and on Saturday, she and Bealer combined to go 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final 43 seconds to close out the win.

As good as the starting five have been, the team’s bench is providing good minutes. Sami Falencki, who was a starter at the beginning of the year, came in to knock down a timely 3-pointer on Saturday and can spell any of the other three guards. Curran O’Donnell, Megan O’Donnell and Erica Stephens have also seen key minutes off the bench.

“Our ball movement and being able to find the open player on offense has really helped,” Walbrandt said.

“It’s our trust in each other,” Dowd said. “We all trust and know everyone is going to work hard and give 110 percent so it’s been working well.”

Souderton has one regular season game left against Central Bucks South and is right on the fringe of teams that will earn first-round District 1-6A playoff byes. The Indians looked at Saturday night as a playoff preview type of game and it was on the same level as the competition they’ve been facing the last few weeks.

“We have a lot of confidence and when you’re able to keep winning, it’s great,” Cardona said. “But we also we’re just trying to have fun out there, we play this game because we love it and because we play this because of how much we love it, we want to win. Everybody on the court wants to win and that helps with confidence because you know the people on the bench are going to step up and back you up with that want to win.”


Not only was Saturday Methacton’s Senior Night, it was also a milestone evening for Ryan DeOrio. The senior, who recently hit her 100th 3-pointer in a Warriors uniform, became the sixth player in program history to eclipse the 1,000 career point plateau.

DeOrio needed 10 points at the start of the game and despite being face-guarded at nearly every turn by Souderton’s aggressive guards, she was able to put in 15 points during the game. The senior, who will be playing at Vassar College next year, had five at the half and was trying her best not to think about the looming marker.

“I was trying to focus on the game, get the win and play team defense,” DeOrio said. “I was trying to keep it in the back of my mind and not think about it.”

Her milestone basket came with 2:56 left in the third quarter on a driving left-handed layup that danced around the rim before dropping through. DeOrio, however, had no idea what she had just done and started rushing back on defense trying to get her teammates to follow suit.

“I was running back on D trying to tell the other girls ‘let’s do this,’ before the stopped the game,” DeOrio said. “The other girls all came running at me and that’s when it hit me.

“It was just mind-blowing, honestly. So many people have helped me get there from my freshman year, especially the seniors my freshman year, Jenna Carroll and Kelly Glatthorn, they both scored 1,000 when I was a freshman so it really helped me set that goal for myself.”

DeOrio, who was honored alongside Jenna Cooper, Sydney Thompson and Jackie Cerchio pregame, said this the best team she’s been on in her four years at Methacton and while the recent milestones are nice, she and her teammates have more goals in mind.

“It seemed like it all came suddenly,” DeOrio said. “It felt like all of this is here, I’m a senior and it’s now or never.”

The Warriors will be in the PAC playoffs next week, facing Upper Merion in the semifinals and will likely have a first-round home game in the District 1-6A playoffs, entering the week as the 11th seed in the latest power rankings.

“Us four seniors have been playing together since we were eight years old so we know how to play together and we meld well together on the court,” DeOrio said. “Going into PACs and districts, we want to win PACs, go as far as we can in districts and qualify for states. We feel like this is just the beginning for us.”

Souderton 55, Methacton 47
Souderton 2 16 20 17 – 55
Methacton 10 11 15 11 – 47
Souderton (55): Tori Dowd 2 1-2 5, Megan Bealer 4 2-2 12, Alana Cardona 5 2-2 12, Megan Walbrandt 4 4-4 13, Kate Connolly 3 4-4 10, Sami Falencki 1 0-0 3. Nonscoring: Curran O’Donnell, Erica Stephens. Totals: 19 13-14 55.
Methacton (47): Ryan DeOrio 6 1-3 15, Sydney Torretta 2 2-2 6, Jackie Cerchio 2 3-4 7, Sydney Thompson 4 0-1 8, Jill Zerbe 4 0-0 9 Olivia Pennypacker 1 0-0 2, Jenna Cooper 0 0-2 0. Totals: 19 6-12.
3-pointers: S – Bealer 2, Walbrandt, Falencki; M – DeOrio 2, Zerbe.

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