Neshaminy girls basketball warms up with win over Chester

Neshaminy senior Devon Storms, left, takes the ball to the basket, guarded by Chester defenders Myah Phillips, center, and Destiny Gibson, right in non-league girls basketball action Feb. 8 on the Lady Skins’ home court.   (J.S. Garber – For 21st-Century Media)

LANGHORNE – There may be more players who’d be willing to join them though Neshaminy seniors Emily Alexis and Devon Storms freely admitted last night they were not wishing for snow on Thursday morning.

A cancellation of classes throughout the school district meant the Lady Skins would not get to play two-time Suburban One Continental League champion and top-ranked North Penn.

“We want to play them,” the 12th-grade duo said in unison Wednesday night after a 45-17 thrashing of Del-Val League rival Chester (4-15).

Neshaminy (15-5) got field goals in the first quarter from Alexis, Olivia Scotti, Kristin Curley, Storms – who hit for a pair of layups – and sophomore Allison Harvey, who canned a pair of 3-pointers.

Up 16-6 after the first period, the Skins tallied just three points in the second and still took a 19-9 lead into the locker room at the break.

After the intermission, Neshaminy assistant Jackie Shunkwiler inserted Storms back into the lineup and she led the team to a 26-point performance in the second half in an eventual 45-17 triumph.

“She is so good when she goes to the basket,” said Shunkwiler, of Storms. “We had that conversation at halftime. I told her ‘you have to go to the basket, Devon.’ Sometimes, she settles for jump shots.

“She’s at her best when she’s looking to get to the basket and that’s exactly what she did the second half.”

Count Shunkwiler among the members of the lady Skins who had hopes for Neshaminy getting another crack at North Penn.

“We’ve been really looking forward to that North Penn game, almost all season,” said Shunkwiler. “All week, we’ve been prepping for North Penn but not looking past Chester.

“This was a good game to get them warmed up and ready for that rematch, hopefully.”

While the third period very much resembled the first – with field goals from Scotti, Curley, Storms and another 3-pointer from Harvey – Devon led a group of freshmen that included Kelli Kowalick, Emily Tantala and Scotti to a 14-point barrage in the final frame. Storms canned a pair of driving layups and Scotti poured three balls into the basket, mostly off fast-break opportunities.

“This was a good game in the sense that we were able to get everybody in,” added Shunkwiler.

“We were able to run our offensive sets and we were able to work on our defense – our press.

“We’ve struggled this season getting into our offensive sets and running them through and getting all the options from them.

“In that sense, it was good that we were able to get everybody in off the bench and still be able to run all our sets under that type of pressure.”

Had the region not been pelted with overnight snow, the Skins would play North Penn tonight. Last year, the lady Knights outpaced Neshaminy three times, though the final duel in 2016 was a 1-point affair in the state quarterfinals.

“We played them three times last year and they knocked us out of states – by one point,” said Alexis. “The game means a lot to us; they’re a great team and it’s personal – for us.”

Last year, as 2016 SOL National champions, the Skins lost by five points to North Penn in the annual SOL girls basketball tournament. This season, the honor of playing the Knights will go to 2017 SOL National champion Council Rock North, which topped Neshaminy twice this season.

For that, the Lady Indians get the chance to open the SOL Tournament with a battle against North Penn 2 p.m. Saturday at Bensalem. A win there will put the Rock in Monday’s championship against the winner of Plymouth-Whitemarsh/CB West.

While that leaves Neshaminy out of the SOL Tournament, it doesn’t leave them out of the postseason picture, altogether.

Last year, the Skins battled back from a 28-point loss to the Knights in district playbacks then toppled No. 7 seed Conestoga to record a seventh-place finish in the tournament. In states, Neshaminy outpaced District 2 champ Hazleton and D-1 fourth-place finisher Upper Dublin before facing off against the North Penn in the PIAA quarterfinals.

The girls are looking to duplicate that kind of a long postseason run in the current campaign.

“We know that districts is a new season for us,” said Storms “It’s not easy but we went far last year and we hope to do it again as seniors.”

Final D-1 playoff seedings will be set over the weekend and Neshaminy figures to be in the top 10, seated in the ninth position as of Feb. 5. Seven of the current top 10 seeds hail from the SOL including No. 1 ranked North Penn, No. 4 P-W and No. 5 CB West.

Ironically, Rock North is ranked just 13th on the list, though none of that matters when the tournament tips off on Feb. 18.

It’s like the Lady Skins said. It’s a whole new season.

Neshaminy 45, Chester 17

(Feb. 8 at Neshaminy)

Neshaminy 16 3 12 14 — 45

Chester (4-15) 6 3 4 4 — 17

NESHAMINY (15-5) — Emily Tantala 1 0-0 2, Emily Alexis 1 1-6 3, Olivia Scotti 5 0-0 10, Kristin Curley 2 2-2 6, Kelli Kowalick 1 0-0 2, Devon Storms 5 1-5 11, Allison Harvey 4 0-0 11; TOTALS — 19 4-12 45.

CHESTER (4-15) — Myah Phillips 1 0-0 3, Clayshonia Cogman 1 0-0 2, Monique Colbert 0 2-2 2, Shod’Deah Kelly 3 2-4 8, Destiny Gibson 1 0-2 2; TOTALS — 6 4-8 17.

3-POINT GOALS: N — Harvey 3; C — Phillips.

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