Girls’ basketball: Shanahan defense shuts down D-town East; Eagles advance to Ches-Mont Final Four

Uwchlan – With a spot in the Ches-Mont Final Four waiting for the Eagles if they won, Bishop Shanahan fired up its defensive pressure against host Downingtown East for 32 minutes Friday evening, flying out of the gates for a 14-1 first-quarter lead, and a 51-21 win.
Shanahan finished the regular season with a 9-3 record in the Ches-Mont National Division, second to division champ Coatesville (10-2). In the Final Four, the Eagles will open against the winner of Saturday’s Oxford-Rustin contest, which decides the first-place finisher in the Ches-Mont American Division.
The Eagles held Downingtown East to just six points (and two field goals) in the first half, and the visitors outscored the Cougars in every quarter. In the first quarter particularly, Shanahan’s full-court pressure forced costly Cougar turnovers, several which led to Eagle baskets.
“This was our best game [of the season] defensively,” said Shanahan head coach Fran Burbidge. “The biggest part of our defense tonight was that the girls were talking a lot better on court tonight, and working the rotations really well. When we had to double on one of [Downingtown’s] bigs, our players were going to the right spot.
“We came into this game knowing we controlled our destiny [in the Ches-Mont], and we went out and got the win.”
Shanahan kept getting the ball to its 1,000-point scorer, senior forward Courtney Warley, and she responded with 28 points. Warley hit nine field goals (mostly from inside), and whenever she was fouled, the Manhattan College-bound senior came through on the free throw line, going 10-for-13 from the charity stripe.
“We really came out focused tonight,” said Warley. “We communicated on defense very well tonight – we rotated very well whenever we had to switch an assignment.”
The only point Shanahan allowed in the first quarter was a free throw by Cougar freshman center Bella Smuda midway through the period. Sumda’s free throw made the score 7-1, then Shanahan freshman forward Kathryn Greenhut nailed a three-pointer from the right side to make it 10-1, then a couple of Downingtown East turnovers led to baskets underneath by Warley and a 14-1 first quarter lead for the visitors.
Downingtown East cut Shanahan’s lead to 16-5 midway through the second quarter, but the visitors closed the period with a 9-1 run as Greenhut (who finished with nine points) hit from inside, Warley drove in for anoter basket and senior guard Jen Sendi hit a trey from the left side at the halftime buzzer to give the Eagles a 25-6 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Shanahan lengthened its lead to 40-15 as Warley scored 11 points, sophomore guard Sammie McCarter nailed a three-pointer and senior guard Kelly Basile made a free throw after making a slick steal.
“In the locker room after the game I told our players that for Courtney to score [28] points, it took every one of her teammates to create the space for Courtney to make her shots,” said Burbidge. “Every one of our players played well tonight.”
On Monday, Shanahan lost to Villa Maria Academy, 54-35, and Burbidge said the Eagles used that loss as a learning experience.
“We missed a few shots against Villa early, and then our composure slipped a tad,” said Burbidge. “We learned that nothing gets accomplished by trying to score three baskets on the next possession after missing a shot. We were trying to rush, trying to do too much at once, against Villa. We learned to keep our composure, not to allow a six-point run to become a 12-point run.”
The day after the loss to Villa Maria, Shanahan defeated West Chester East, 53-36, getting out to a 41-12 halftime lead. Warley scored 17 points and reached the 1,000 point milestone. After the win against the Vikings, all the Eagles needed Friday was a victory versus the Cougars to clinch a spot in the Ches-Mont Final Four.
Warley said, “Our game plan tonight was to focus on defense, even if our offense wasn’t going our way.”
It was a tough loss for Downingtown East, which was celebrating Senior Night. Before the game, its four seniors (forward Claire Riley, forward Allison Dienes, guard Nicole Welker and guard Elise Person) were honored with an introduction and ceremony.
“Sometimes, a game can be like quicksand, where you fall behind and try to turn the momentum with a basket or a big play, and it just doesn’t happen,” said Downingtown East head coach Tom Schurtz. “Give credit to Shanahan, they kept the pressure on us and we couldn’t break out tonight.
“We’re focusing on team goals, and to have a record of 14-8 is a solid season, and we’ve got five days to get ready for Districts.”

Bishop Shanahan 51, Downingtown East 21
Bishop Shanahan: Warley 9 10-13 28, Greenhut 2 4-4 9, Hinkley 1 0-0 2, Basile 0 1-2 1, Sendi 1 0-0 3, McCarter 2 0-0 5, Cox 1 1-1 3. Totals: 16 16-20 51.
Downingtown East: Riley 1 1-2 3, Meakim 0 1-1 1, Tyrell 1 3-3 5, Dienes 1 0-0 2, Welker 0 2-2 2, Smuda 0 2-4 2, Phelan 1 0-0 2, Williams 2 0-0 4. Totals: 6 9-12 21.
Bishop Shanahan 14 11 15 11 – 51
Downingtown East 1 5 9 6 – 21
3-point goals: BS – Greenhut, Sendi, McCarter; DE – None.

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